What is faith?

To some people it is their belief, their church: “I’m a Baptist.” or “I’m Catholic.” Is it just a system of beliefs or something more? The Apostle Paul taught in Hebrews 11:1 that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

An Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin takes it further when he said, “Faith exists when absolute confidence in that which we cannot see combines with action that is in absolute conformity to the will of our Heavenly Father. Without all three — first, absolute confidence; second, action; and third, absolute conformity — without these three all we have is a counterfeit, a weak and watered-down faith.”

In Genesis 22, Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. How does Abraham demonstrate his faith in God, his absolute confidence? God commands Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him by saying, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning…”

He did not ask for a reprieve to prepare or try to talk the Lord out of this commandment. He got up early, took two servants, some wood, a knife, and Isaac, his only son. When questioned by Isaac about what they were going to sacrifice, Abraham said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”...”So, they went both of them together.”

And then we read, “Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him… And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad.”

Abraham had absolute confidence in God’s commandment, even if it meant slaying his only son, his heir, and he showed his faith. But what about Isaac? He also showed his faith, not only in his willingness to obey his very old father, but the Lord as well. I feel that this is a great example of absolute faith by both father and son.

From a more personal example, I desired, like Abraham’s elderly wife, Sarah, to have a baby. I had two children already, a daughter and a son; yet I wanted another. I had prayed, gone through fertility efforts, and even thought about adopting. Finally, after four years and many failures, the doctor asked me, “Do you believe in God?” “Yes,” I responded. He asked me again if I believed in God. “Yes, of course I do!”

He then said something that brought me up short: “Then trust Him.”

I went home and changed my whole outlook and tried to accept that even though I knew that God could help me have another baby, and even though I had acted with great faith in the manmade assistance of the fertility pills, I had to conform to God’s will.

I decided to go back to school and had set about to enroll when I found myself pregnant. Obviously, I did not have to think about destroying my long-awaited child—but just like Abraham, I had to accept the Lord’s will.

We will each have our “Isaac moments.” How will we be willing to exhibit our absolute confidence in God? What actions will we take to show Him we are willing to trust Him completely? And lastly, will we conform to His will, no matter what?

In the words of Church of Jesus Christ Apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Each of us has the privilege of choosing whether we will believe that God is our Father, that Jesus is the Christ, and that They have a plan designed to help us return home to Them. This, of course, requires faith. Our testimonies, our peace of mind, and our well-being begin with the willingness to believe that our Father in heaven does indeed know best.”

Submitted by Bonnie Holyoak