Live by Faith, Not by Fear

The last few weeks prior to conference were not very good ones for me. Trials seemed to come from nearly every direction causing me great anxiety regarding my children, our house, my job, and our finances. I do not wish to express the details, because the details are not the point, and because I know that other people have greater trials than I do.

These trials were causing me to dread going into the basement, or going to work, or hearing any kind of news, for fear of things getting even worse. At one time I began contemplating all the negative possibilities of life. Great tragedy could strike any of us at any time, in nearly any area of life. It may not matter how much we try and prevent or prepare for such things, they may happen anyway. In my great despair I began thinking of my wife and children, and had to admit to myself that events could happen which would leave my unable to care for or protect them. It wouldn’t even take that much really. Death, disease, disaster. It could happen.

I could not be distracted from my worries. I decided to turn to the scriptures and look up some verses on trials. I eventually came across Hebrews 12. The whole chapter really. Reminding myself that God is my Father, and like other fathers will provide the type of learning experiences that children need. This provided some comfort.

Early on Sunday morning, before conference started, I went for a walk. I ended up at some local soccer fields. On my walk I thought about trials, and what their purpose might be. I thought about other people that seemed to have more trials than I do, yet seem to go on with bright and promising attitudes. And there, in the middle of a soccer field I shouted to the heavens ‘HOW DO THEY DO IT!!!!”

It was in such a state of mind that I watched conference. Most of the talks did nothing for me. I just stared into space. My wife told me several times that I needed to snap out of it. Terribly helpful advice that. Then finally Elder Cook, our newest apostle, began to speak.

Much of his talk was expressing gratitude to the many good people who had influenced him, but the point of his talk was to live by faith, not by fear. It seemed to me like he said that phrase perhaps a dozen times. It seemed to strike deep into my soul. At the end of the talk, I sat upright, smiled at my good wife (who has been so strong through it all), and declared ‘Live by Faith, not by Fear!’ And declared myself temporarily cured. I have tried to use this as a motto for the last few days, and while it isn’t some magic pill, it helps.

As I now read his talk, I am surprised how little he actually said the phrase. Only three times as I count. Why did it seem like it was repeated so much more often when I heard it? I conclude that there was more communication going on than the simple words which Elder Cook spoke.

A scripture Elder Cook used was D&C 58:5-6 which includes the phrase, ‘Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you’.

I’m sorry. This really isn’t much of a review. I did not get as much out of Elder Cook’s talk after reading it, as I did when I heard it. I am going to try to live by faith, and not by fear, as I attempt to go through my current trials, and those that will surely come in the future. I admire those who seem to have a greater capacity to do this than I do. Reminding myself that God is my Father, and that this whole mortality thing was His idea, and that he knows what will be for the best, gives me some hope. I hope I can endure my trials well.

How do you do it?

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10 Responses to “Live by Faith, Not by Fear”


  1. 1 C Jones October 14, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Eric, I’m sorry that all is not well for you right now. I don’t know if this list I wrote for myself during a bad time will have anything helpful for you at all, but here goes.

    1- Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Get enough exercise so that you can get enough sleep. Take something for sleep if that’s what it takes.

    2- Get outside. You can feel God more easily there. Go to the beach, mountains, desert, park, go for a walk, anywhere that you can feel some sun and touch the ground.

    3- Feel the pain. The only way out is through. Feel the knots in your stomach and the pain in your head and the ache in your back and the tightness in your throat. Cry.

    4- Don’t dwell. Stop replaying those conversations, those events, those moments over and over again in your head.

    5- Service. Pray about who on your street needs something. Then do the thing that comes to you.

    6- Print out all the conference talks that you can find on the subject of trials and read one every day.

  2. 2 Michelle October 15, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Eric, you’re great, do you know that?

    This theme is one I find myself having to revisit often. I am grateful that you received an answer beyond words but also through the Spirit. And I appreciate you being willing to share it here. To me, that is so much a part of what it means to be brothers and sisters in the gospel — to be able to share what helps us get through those times when we feel overwhelmed or sad or afraid or alone.

    I hope this pill works for a long, long time. šŸ™‚

  3. 3 Eric Nielson October 15, 2007 at 6:37 am

    CJones:

    This is good advice. Leme see….I think I did 2 and 3. The rest need work.

    Michelle:

    I’m ordinary at best, do you know that? Just trying to get through somehow. We could be down and gone, but we hold on.

  4. 4 mondo cool October 15, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Eric:
    There are thousands of us who have been through this. And, it never really goes away. Our capacity grows.

    A couple of things in my life have helped me. First, advice from my father. He’s been a valiant, loyal man to God & the Kingdom since converting to the Church over 40 years ago. You might get an understanding of his spiritual sensitivity by knowing he has served as a Stake Patriarch until getting an emeritus status a couple of years ago. His advice? “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” His meaning? You will encounter people with less than redeeming values who don’t give a flip about you. Don’t let them determine who you are. What’s important is that you determine who you are.

    Second, advice from the scriptures that directly relates to the first. John 6: 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
    69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
    There’s really no other true and complete solution to our trials than our relationship with Jesus Christ. Obedience to His precepts is the key in determining who we become.

    So, in reality, you are doing what you need to do to face your trials. Use everything God has already given you – your familiy, quorum, scriptures, personal grit, PATIENCE, prayer, gratitude, service, etc.

  5. 5 Eric Nielson October 15, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks Mondo. There is something I like about picturing a spiritual old patriarch saying something like “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. Maybe I shouldn’t like quotes like that – but I do.

    Sometimes I think it may be easier to deal with people than with things. When people get you down, you can chalk it up to ….. bastards, I guess. But when ‘things’ go wrong, things like car trouble, unforseen house repairs, major water damage, illness, it is more difficult for me. It’s hard to file these under free agency run amuk.

    But the attitudes you suggest are good.

    Oh, I also wish my dad were near at times like this.

  6. 6 Michelle October 15, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Eric, we are all ordinary. But your heart is good. You are great because you know from Whom your blessings come and you are constantly trying to keep focused on Him. And I appreciate you doing that in a way that allows us all to try to be a little better. Again, to me that is what being brothers and sisters in the gospel is all about.

  7. 8 Wade October 18, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Eric,

    I appreciate you sharing your recent feelings/struggles. Knowing of your difficulties (at least generally) and that despite them you fight on is inspiring to me. There are so many reasons for being chastened and tutored in the furnace of trial, but I believe a main reason is the greater capacity we gain for empathizing, inspiring, and lifting others who also struggle. I want you to know that your example has lifted me.

    Moreover, this may seem unrelated, but over the past few months I have been thinking quite a lot about the forces that oppose us. I actually met with my Bishop some months ago to seek counsel regarding a desire I had to improve my life by certain degrees that have seemed to elude me. I was greatly impressed by his wisdom and instruction. In part, he suggested to me that adversarial forces seek to be (and often are) just as ambitious and organized as is our Father. I had developed certain views concerning the adversary; he confirmed them and taught me more. Without going into detail (to spare those who may dismiss it as my odd personal beliefs), there are real forces that know us and scheme against our happiness.

    Perhaps the Lord allows them the ability to get closer to us than we would prefer (to allow us a chance to govern ourselves against them, to test our loyalty, and to tutor us). I think this is what Paul was trying to teach us when he declared the following:

    “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

    I take the concept of “messenger of Satan” to be literal. I know most interpret Pauls “thorn” to be some unknown struggle of his; I consider it to be just what he said it was: a personal adversary of sorts, to tempt and to try him in more ways than one.

    Thanks again Eric for your example of a good fight!

  8. 9 Michelle October 22, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Well said, Wade. And I personally agree with your wild personal ideas about the forces of evil knowing us and being organized and deliberate and focused in their efforts to thwart the plan.

    Even so, they don’t fully know the mind of God, and as we overcome temptation, we can come to better know good from evil, to recognize tactics that they use, and maybe even learn to avoid the tempter’s snares in the future.

  9. 10 Wade October 25, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Well taken Michelle.


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