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Cover image via LDSLiving. The following was written by David B. Marsh. To read the full article, click here.
We seem to be living in a time when many have doubts about the truthfulness of the Church. Virtually everyone knows someone who is doubting. Many leaders report having interviews with members who are struggling. Parents heartbreakingly watch children leave the Church and feel powerless to help. While the choice to leave the Church lies with our loved ones, there are things we can do to support them and help them dissolve their doubts.
An episode in the Savior’s life demonstrates how He showed compassion for someone who was doubting.
Early in the morning, Jesus miraculously walked on water to meet His disciples who were in a ship on the Sea of Galilee. Peter could not wait for the Savior to arrive at the ship and requested, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” The Savior agreed. “And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (Matthew 14:26–31).
I suppose the Savior could have left the sinking Peter to struggle in order to teach him a lesson. But He didn’t. He immediately and compassionately “stretched forth His hand, and caught him.” When we see a loved one struggling with doubt, we should immediately and compassionately stretch forth our best efforts to help them.
As Jesus drew Peter from the water, He asked a simple, yet profound question: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). At first, this question may seem unsympathetic. But, the word wherefore means, “the point reached or entered” in the original Greek (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v., “G1519 eis”). In essence, Jesus was asking, “How did you reach the point of doubting?” The Lord was not chastising Peter as much as He was asking him to look within himself and figure out how he got to the point of doubting. How was it that he walked on water for a time but then sank? Something changed within Peter and the Lord wanted him to figure out what it was.
The Lord knew that doubt was destroying Peter’s faith and He wanted Peter to overcome his doubt before it caused any further spiritual damage. No wonder the scriptural commands about doubting are so absolute. Moroni declared, “Doubt not, but be believing” (Mormon 9:27). “Doubt not, fear not,” said the Savior (D&C 6:36).
Because doubt is the mortal enemy of faith, the sooner we help our doubting friends and loved ones sincerely look inside themselves and identify the source of their doubt, the quicker they can dispel those doubts and preserve their faith. Just as a doctor can more precisely offer a cure for a malady by knowing what caused it, our friends and family can better dissolve their doubt by knowing its source.
People experiencing doubt often feel unworthy or sinful. When we show compassion, rather than being judgmental, we show them they have someone who understands and who will patiently walk beside them as they work through their doubts. Jesus treated those who doubted with compassion. We can follow His example.
To read the full article on LDSLiving, click here.