Elder Holland started out by telling the story of the man whose son had an evil spirit. He had gone to Jesus' disciples in hope of receiving a blessing of healing for his son, but they were not able to do it. The father approached Jesus and asked for a blessing from him. "If thou canst do anything," he pleads. Jesus responds, "If thou canst believe." I never caught that parallel before Elder Holland pointed it out. The father continues, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." I really wish that the scriptures could tell us exactly how this man said that response. Did he respond quickly at first and then at Jesus' glance realize that he had some doubts? Did he challenge Jesus? "I believe, show me now Your power to relieve all my doubts." I can certainly imagine the desperation that this father had. I would do almost anything for my kids.
Elder Holland now tells us three observations he has had about increasing faith.
- Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.
- Do not start asking for more faith by saying how much you do not know.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help.
The first observation is one that I have come to realize through personal experience. I have had many doubts and questions in my life, but these things I know. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I know these things through personal and spiritual experiences that I cannot, and would never want to, forget. Occasionally I take my questions off the shelf and think about them again, trying to resolve them or find some sort of answer. But I have to come back to the things that I *know* absolutely. When I have my doubts or concerns and I can't resolve them, I often say to myself, "I know the things that I know. I will have to wait to find out the answers to the others." I often think of the questions that are on my list to ask Heavenly Father when I get to heaven.
The second observation is close to the first. In fact, Elder Holland calls it a variation on the first. "When problems come and questions arise, do not start you quest for faith by saying how much you do not have." He continues:
I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! . . Be as candid about your questions as you need to be. . . But if you and your family want to be healed, don't let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.
Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. . . And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.
So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. . . As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.
Elder Holland's third observation is "When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help." We will have doubts and difficulties. Life is not one unending rainbow road. So if you have doubts, you are not alone, but you do not have to stay in your doubts. God will answer the sincere in heart and we can find strength in the testimonies of others until we have gained our own. Elder Holland closes his talk with his own powerful testimony. I thought about quoting his whole testimony but instead I encourage you to read this talk and to list the things that you know. Examine the faith that you have and hold on to that.