You Have More Faith Than You Think

Today I’ll be talking about faith – what it is, why it matters, and why you may have a lot more faith than you realize. This post is part of my Life Insights blog series. Find the companion video near the bottom of the post. For easy access to all my videos, subscribe to my Author Youtube Channel.

I’m R. H. Roberts. You can call me Renee. I’m a writer, a blogger and a mom of seven. If you remember from last week, I’m creating this video and blog series to explore issues we wrestle in life and how to triumph in our daily living. I believe we can learn and grow together and hope the discussions we share here can build a sense of strength and purpose. Thanks for joining me in the quest for inner peace!

Faith is a pretty big topic for me to tackle right off, but at the request of one of my favorite people, I’m exploring what faith is and what it means in our lives to have faith. This is such a big topic, that I’m counting on all of you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. I hope we can have a lively discussion where we can all learn together.

What is faith?

Is Faith the Absence of Questions and Doubts?

So, I used to think faith meant a burning, unshakeable belief, that someone with faith never had doubts. When the centurion asked the Lord to heal his servant, saying “speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed,” (KJV Matthew 8:8), Jesus marveled and said he’d “not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

Is this certainty what it means to have faith?

In my years of reading about the faith of others and trying to nurture my own faith, I interpreted this and many other verses to mean that great faith must be complete, without questions or doubts.

Help Thou My Unbelief

But note the story in Mark 9 of the father who plead with Christ to heal his son.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Now, there’s several issues here. The father immediately cried out in faith, I believe! How often do we feel like that only to be beset with questions and doubts and fears only moments later? But I love the father’s quick response to those questions and fears – help thou my unbelief.

Christ then healed the father’s child.

Now, I’m not going to go into the issues of when and why hearings occur in this post, but trust me, I will do my best address that difficulty later.

Here, we are considering the father’s faith.

Remember what Jesus told him? He told him to believe. He didn’t tell him to know.

This is an important distinction. We often confuse faith with knowledge. That’s what I did. When I thought true faith must be unshakeable, unquestioning, an undoubting belief, that is it must be full, complete, and essentially, knowing…I was totally mixing up faith and knowledge.

But I don’t see faith that way anymore. If you know something, you know it and have no reason to doubt. I know I have ten fingers. I’ve seen them. I’ve felt them. I use them every day. There’s tons of evidence that they’re real. That’s knowledge. Faith is something different entirely.

If Faith isn’t Knowledge, What is it?

I’ve been thinking about and studying faith a lot over the past few years. Faith can be defined as believing in something which you can’t see, which is real (Alma 32:21). Another way of saying this is that faith is hoping and believing in a truth, even when you can’t gather indisputable evidence.

Philosophers, scientists and theologians can debate all day long about whether there is evidence God exists. But they can’t agree on what constitutes evidence. And despite the best minds wrestling this issue over the centuries, the question remains unsettled. The question of God’s existence and the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a question that must be answered individually, by each of us. There will never be indisputable evidence, at least not during this mortal life.

I believe this is by design. We often talk of being tested in this life. I like to view our mortal experience as opportunities for growth.

Cookie jar analogy

For example, if my child needs to develop self-discipline, they can hardly grow in that way if I’m looking over their shoulder to see if they sneak a cookie from the cookie jar (not that we literally have a cookie jar; cookies never last that long at our house – mom of seven, remember?).

They cannot develop the discipline to regulate themselves if I’m watching over their shoulder. That does not mean I test them by putting cookies in plain sight and seeing if they eat them without my permission. Just to see if they pass the test. I don’t believe that’s how God works, either. There’s way more purpose to the circumstances of this life. The purpose – growth!

In like fashion, we have profound opportunities to grow and develop self-discipline through this mortal experience out of sight of the Lord. (Note: we are not actually out of His sight, although He is out of ours.)

But I believe there is another purpose to this ambiguous situation where we cannot have tangible evidence of God’s existence.

He wants us to develop faith. This is one of the major purposes of life, for us to develop faith. Christ talks about it all the time, all throughout the scriptures. But why? Why does it matter if we have faith? Wouldn’t it be better just to know?

This brings me to the second definition of faith.

Faith is a principle of action.

We choose to believe, hoping that our faith is justified, that the God that we believe in actually exists and loves us and has a plan for us. Then we build our lives based on that choice. The actions we take, the decisions we make, all of this is part of having faith.

Faith prompts us to move beyond mere belief to action. This is part of why God wants us to develop faith. When we have faith, we act on our beliefs, we build integrity, we live lives we feel good about.

Knowledge does not have that same ability to empower us to change and to direct our lives. Most of us know some of our habits are not good for us. That simple knowledge is not enough to change us. But faith in God and in Christ’s atoning power is transforming. Faith moves us to act, to sacrifice our weaknesses and our will to the Lord, trusting Him to heal us and make all right.

This brings me to a third facet of faith.

Faith is a power

An actual power that can change us and change the world around us. The scriptures talk about having faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, likening the power of that faith to the power of the mustard seed to grow into a huge plant.

In Matthew 17, Jesus explains that if we have even the tiniest faith, we can move mountains.


And what are the mountains we move? In my experience, the mountain is usually myself, my weakness, and my stubborn will.

So, what is faith?

  1. Faith is believing in things we cannot see, which are true.
  2. Faith is a principle of action, a belief that moves us to act.
  3. Faith is a transformative power.

For a moment, think about the power of faith in your life. Not just religious faith. I’m going to dial this discussion down to some basic, familiar examples. When I first got married, I couldn’t catch a thing. If my husband, Matt, tossed me they keys, they ended up on the floor. If he tossed me a ball, I bumbled it around in a panic.

Then one day, Matt told me to have faith in myself, to believe I could catch the ball. He told me that just believing I can catch something makes it tons more likely that I will. This is, in a way, having faith in myself, in that area of life. Since then, I’ve grown much more likely to catch the stray water bottle or pillow my family members spontaneously toss in my direction. That’s not to say that practice and experience have no part in this. But there’s no doubt that faith does.

Think of it another way. If you believe you can get up in front of a crowd and speak, you can. You may not do it perfectly or with the skill of someone else, but you can do it. If you have faith you can face a tough situation or complete a difficult task, suddenly your power to do it increases. In short, if you have faith in yourself, you have power and capacity that you did not have before.

Faith grants increased capacity

Religious faith is like this, but the power is multiplied because our faith is calling upon the power of heaven. Faith in God’s love, in Christ’s atonement and his power to heal us—to heal our wounds, to help us rise above our mistakes—this faith can completely transform us.

Without it, we may feel we can never overcome our weaknesses, that we can never be forgiven for things we’ve done wrong or we can’t forgive ourselves and move on.

That’s where faith comes in. But for many of us, having faith isn’t easy. Choosing to believe and to act on that belief can feel like a huge risk. We may feel silly or vulnerable or afraid of being mocked by those who don’t believe. We may not want to risk being wrong, especially when we can’t have definitive proof.

But choosing not to believe carries all the same risks. And I would posit that the power of faith to heal us, transform us, and increase our capacity could be considered evidence in itself (see Hebrews 11). Regardless, the blessings and benefits of faith are profound and, in my opinion, well worth the risk.

For those who easily believe in God, the Savior and His atonement, that earnest faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9). If you have that gift, treasure that belief for the gift that it is. We all have spiritual gifts and the Lord expects us to plead for more spiritual gifts, as part of our development, and also so we can help others.

But it doesn’t do us any good to compare our spiritual gifts (or what we perceive as a lack of spiritual gifts) with others’. Just because faith or belief may not come easily to you, that does not mean you are weak or that faith isn’t for you. It just means that developing faith is your wrestle in life. All of us wrestle different things, though we have much more in common in our challenges than we often realize (which is why I’ve started this series).

Your Faith is Stronger Than You Think

Many of us struggle with only a speck of faith. We may wonder if we have any faith at all. And sometimes even when we start to believe and trust God, our faith falters. Sometimes we feel small and unsure.

That’s ok. Having questions and doubts is ok. If we didn’t have questions, we wouldn’t have a chance to test and expand our faith. I’ve often asked myself – who has more faith, the person who wrestles with questions yet perseveres in living a good life and following truth or the person who never struggles with doubts as they live a good life and follow truth.

In my opinion, it’s the first one, the person who has to struggle through questions and doubts who, despite those questions and doubts, continues to act in faith. To me that kind of faith is tremendous and inspiring and is truly sacrificing our will to the Lord.

Profound faith can be developed

Let me rephrase this—if you have questions, if you have doubts, that does not mean you don’t have faith. It is the choice you make next that determines how much faith you have. Do you choose to hold steady, to persist in trying to know and understand God?

Faith is a choice to believe and a determination to act on that belief. It is not an absence of questions or an absence of doubt.

And if there are times in life when you haven’t held steady, maybe you’ve turned your back on faith or maybe you’ve given up any hope that God exists, don’t worry. To start rebuilding your connection to God, all you need is a desire to believe (Alma 32:27). Just a hope that it’s true. That’s all we need. If we let the desire work within us and act based on our hope, our faith will grow. Then the Lord can lift us, bind up our broken hearts, and grant us great capacity to do His work and share His love and grace.

I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, your wrestle, your questions about faith. Please share in the comments. And if there’s topics you’d like to see covered in upcoming posts, please note that as well. Thank you for sharing your time with me.