Faith centered in Jesus Christ is a key and essential part of mortality. God’s plan for His children requires that at least in this life, they learn to live by faith. The Apostle Paul taught, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, General Authority Seventy, spoke on how God’s children can learn to walk by faith in a BYU-Idaho devotional on March 12.
Faith, Elder Hamilton explained, is to hope or believe in true things even when one cannot see or does not have proof. Answers to spiritual questions often do not come as instantly or spontaneously as a Google search.
“We are sometimes required, whether we like it or not, to live by faith,” Elder Hamilton said.
Walking by faith rather than by sight can be likened to standing under a streetlight and taking a few steps into the darkness. Once one has moved forward with faith and trust, he or she waits patiently. “Slowly our eyes adjust to the darkness, and we find that we can actually see further than we thought,” Elder Hamilton said.
He gave the examples of three men who have had to live by faith.
The first was the prophet Nephi from the Book of Mormon. When Nephi received instructions to retrieve the brass plates from Laban, he said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.”
Later, when tasked with recovering the plates after his brothers had failed, he said, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”
Another example was Joseph Smith. In the early stages of translating the Book of Mormon, he allowed Martin Harris to take 116 pages of the manuscript to show to Harris’ wife. When the 116 pages were lost, Joseph came under serious condemnation and received a severe chastisement from the Lord.
“This must have been an absolute crisis for Joseph,” Elder Hamilton said. “For weeks and months, he struggled forward without the gift of translation and without a clear knowledge of when or even whether he would ever translate again.”
Despite humbling himself and trying to make amends, it was many months before the Prophet Joseph could translate the Book of Mormon again.
“He did not give up, he did not lose faith,” Elder Hamilton said. “He simply continued to move forward to the best of his ability until the gift of translation was again restored to him.”
The third example was that of a man named Gabin Mendene. While Elder Hamilton served as a mission president in Belgium in 2005, he was introduced to a convert from the African country Gabon who was attending a university in Belgium. He was thus known to the Hamilton family as Gabin from Gabon.
Due to issues with his visa, Mendene was denied the opportunity to serve a mission and was deported back to Gabon. “So, in the spring of 2006,” Elder Hamilton said, “he packed a small suitcase, and among his personal possessions were two copies of the Book of Mormon, his mission call, DVDs of both 2004 general conferences, his patriarchal blessing, a few tithing slips and one pair of temple garments.”
Walk by faith, not by sight.
Mendene found no organized Church unit in Gabon, and so began holding unofficial meetings on Sundays and family home evenings on Mondays in his home. He met and married a young woman and began teaching her the missionary lessons.
Eight years later, Mendene came across an article online about Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicating Gabon for the preaching of the gospel and organizing the first branch in the country. He was stunned to learn that he was not the only Latter-day Saint in Gabon and there was a branch in his own home city.
Mendene wrote to the mission president and soon was visited by a senior missionary couple. He wanted to know where he could pay the tithing he had been saving for eight years, and where to buy more temple garments since he had been carefully washing his one pair each night to wear the next day.
Mendene’s wife was soon taught the missionary lessons and shortly afterwards was baptized a member of the Church.
After years of not knowing what happened to his friend, Elder Hamilton was in Gabon as a member of the area presidency. “During one of the meetings, as I was speaking at the pulpit, the door to the room opened and to my joyful surprise, in walked my friend — Gabin from Gabon.”
The Mendenes were soon sealed together in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple and Gabin Mendene was called to serve as president of the Libreville 2nd Branch.
“Gabin Mendene learned to walk by faith,” Elder Hamilton said. “In spite of all the challenges, he simply kept moving forward in faith, not knowing the end from the beginning, led by the Spirit. … Gabin had learned that sometimes we have to simply righteously move forward.”
Faith in Jesus Christ creates a firm bedrock for each person’s life. But to create that foundation, it has to be built every day in small and simple ways, Elder Hamilton said.
“Our foundation is established every time we read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. We build our foundation with each personal prayer, every time we partake of the sacrament, each time we attend the temple, and every time we minister to our fellow brothers and sisters. Each time we repent, we are laying the foundation of our spiritual home on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ.”
In closing, Elder Hamilton shared the ultimate statement on living by faith, which is found in the Book of Mormon when Moroni invites all to “come unto Christ and be perfected in him.”
“Trust in Him. Believe in Him. Rely on Him. Walk with Him. Walk by faith, not by sight. As we do, we establish our foundation faithfully on the bedrock of Jesus Christ, Who is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.”