Faith: The Supernal Gift

Often times, the sweep of history appears without purpose and full of tragedy. When viewed through this lens, finding and maintaining faith in God can be very difficult. Those who struggle with faith or the lack thereof are rarely pleased to conclude that there is no God. 

In The Tower of Babel by Morris L. West, one of his characters bemoans the "tragedy of the human condition" wherein man is "conceived without consent", "wrenched, whimpering into an alien universe," in which man  stills maintains the "sacred illusion of immortality", where those who are blessed with the gift of faith are the "lucky ones" (Moroni 10: 11; Doctrine and Covenants 46: 19-20; 1 Corinthians 12:9) .  

Those who continue on without the gift of faith are "thrust back on reason" which holds "no key to the mystery and paradox and tragedy of the human condition." 

Faith is a gift, and reason, by itself cannot lead man out of the maze. Man does not understand the mind of God (Isaiah  55:9), His timetable, or his perspective. The gift of faith is felt as what has been called "tacit knowledge", the form of knowledge that lies just below our ability to articulate  the whispering of truths which are difficult to share and are nigh unto impossible to use in persuasive argument to the ears of others. 

Without the gift of faith, or the perspective that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, man's reliance on reason alone will lead him through strange paths to sadness and  despair. 

It is little wonder that some individuals never fully accept the gift of faith and get no closer to the supernal gift than to be "almost persuaded" (Acts 26:28). Our response to this view of the human condition and those who hold it cannot be canned consolation or the dismissal of their dismay. 

I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.
— Philip Yancey

Without the perspective that the gospel offers and the crucial information that God has shared with us about man and our divine destiny, we too would be found in a maze without a clue. Joy would be but a brief encounter to foreshadow the joy that might be,  but could not be. Nothingness would come crashing in.

It is natural for cynicism to sprout and take root from this dark foreboding. The view of life as inconsequential naturally evolves from cynicism. This attitude gives rise to the "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" (2 Ne. 28:7-9) approach to life. 

Man has wandered to and fro from lack of understanding of his purpose that the gift of faith and the gospel provide. How can life be a growth experience if God suspends all opposition? Life is an "open book" exam, but the real problem is that most of us either do not have "the book" or refuse to open it! 

In the agony after his wife's death, C.S. Lewis noted that God's plan is to play the role of the Surgeon who must continue the operation against the patient's complaint, in full view of our pain or else , "all the pain up to that point would...[be] useless." (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed) 

We all knew this once and accepted it. God our Father is being faithful to the promises He made to the patients (us) before the "operation" began, wherein our pleadings to stop must go unheeded, due to the decision we made when we agreed to be "wrenched, whimpering into an alien universe".

Nobody is a Christian for oneself alone. The gift of faith is given to us so that by word and example we may become witnesses unto others
— Pope John Paul II

The gift of faith allows us to  move forward in the work of the Lord. As President Gordon B. Hinckley stated "Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve". 

Ours is the task to combat cynicism through faith and to influence others to the gift that they may awaken to their "tacit knowledge" and be roused to hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


This post was inspired by Elder Neal A. Maxwell