In the Book of Matthew, we read the story of Jesus calming the storm while at sea with His disciples. This story is popular particularly for the question that Jesus posed to His disciples. He said, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” This question has been interpreted in so many ways, one of which is that when we feel fear, we have little faith.
Is there truth to this interpretation?
Before we answer this question, we need to determine what kind of fear we are feeling. There are two kinds of fear—godly fear and worldly fear.
In the scriptures, we are taught to fear God. This godly fear as explained by Elder Bednar is “a deep feeling of reverence, respect, and awe for the Lord Jesus Christ”. It is not really “fear” then, as we tend to think of it. It is a feeling that persuades us to seek knowledge and understanding about the commandments of God so we can obey them. It is also with this veneration that we seek to intently learn the fullness of God’s glory and power. This kind of fear increases faith and deep devotion to Him.
The other kind of fear, which we are counseled to avoid, is the fear that is not of God. This kind of fear which Satan loves to exploit, makes us doubt who we are and who we can become. It is the fear that we are not enough, that our past mistakes define us, that we don’t deserve to be loved or forgiven, that we are so flawed we are beyond the reach of the power of the Atonement, that we are not capable of building and keeping a family of our own, that we will likely fail or be rejected, that we cannot progress further, that we do not matter, and all other thoughts that are NOT true.
Many of us might be thinking, “But I feel it, how come it is not true?” Yes, these feelings are real, but it does not mean that they are true. It also does not mean that we have little faith. It means that we are human and we are subject to these feelings because of our mortal state. These feelings could be one of the challenges that we have to endure in order to fully understand who we are and what our souls are worth in the eyes of God. They could be a path that we need to take so we can know how to succor and strengthen those who are walking the same path. They could prompt defining moments of our faith in which God shows us that we will not stumble if He is the rock we build our faith upon.
These feelings can mean many things, but one thing is for sure, feelings of fear DO NOT define our faith. What we do about them does.
So what do we do when we fear?
In one of the Apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy he wrote that, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. When this truth is clear to us and we face moments of fear, we can turn from it by turning to the Lord. Turning to Him comes in many forms. It could be through prayer, reading the scriptures, seeking counsel from a bishop, singing a hymn, performing acts of service, not giving in to the spirit of contention, and more.
As we turn to the Lord, we will be better able to recognize that we are always enough, that we can become the best version of ourselves and reach our full potential, and that we matter to Him. We can come to know the truths of His gospel and the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that can mend broken things and smooth every flaw. We will be able to see things as they really are, and see through the lens of a loving Father that we can grow and bloom amidst our afflictions, that we can forgive and be forgiven, that death is not the end but the beginning of another journey, and that God will always love us and walk with us every step of the way as we progress in this life.
We are taught that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the antidote to fear. It sounds simple but faith requires work, dedication, and life-long nurturing. For us to dispel fear, we must build our faith first by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and then seeking confirmation by the power of the Holy Spirit that it is true. Other crucial elements of building our faith are repentance, making and keeping covenants, and losing ourselves in the service of God.
Life will not be free of fear. Some of our fears will come from bitter experiences, others will tax our courage and test our resilience, but let’s not let these feelings define our faith. Let our experiences make our faith more deeply rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do not let fear overcome our faith, it should be enough reason to not question if we have little faith.
The Lord loves us. Even if our faith is the size of a mustard seed, what He sees is what it can become—a strong and towering tree. What matters to Him is that we nurture the seed so that it can become what it is destined to become.