What is devotion?

When you hear the word "devoted," we sometimes think committed, converted, whole-hearted, loyal or sure. Not all devoted people, however, have sure knowledge.

One example is Mother Theresa. She explained some doubts she had in letters that were revealed and published in 2007. These doubts, however, never stopped her attempts to be a better person or make the world a better place. She was the model of devotion, despite her doubts. She kept trying to find the answers to her doubts, and realized that where there is struggle, there is strength.

Doubt in its simplest form is to seek more understanding. Doubt is cautious, careful, not rushing into something blindly. Doubt, like faith, is a way to learn.

According to religious leader Dieter F. Uchtdorf, doubt is a precursor of growth. He said, "Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding [faith], but they needn't feel that way. Asking questions isn't a sign of weakness. It's a precursor of growth."

Scripture passages tell us that we should be as little children to enter the kingdom of God. So, let's imagine that we are all little children being taught by God.

How do we learn?

When we teach children how to accomplish a goal that we want them to achieve, there will be a few kids that will say, "OK, I will just stand here like you asked me to." But for most of us, we were the kids asking why. Why is the sky blue, why does it rain, and why do I have to do what you ask me to? Every one of us has been, and will be, more obedient to following instructions if we understand why. Of course, following directions is always more interesting if we will get a reward in the end.

Doubting is like needing to understand why, and the reward at the end is like gaining faith.

In this scenario as God's children, He will teach us a little at a time based on our many personal variables that contribute to our ability to understand.

By small and simple things great things are brought to pass. We build knowledge one step at a time, and doubt is part of that discovery process.

Often I've taught a child who has said, "Yeah, but what about " ?" and I know they are trying to comprehend the deeper meaning of the lesson. More often than not I will learn in that moment, that they are further along the path than I thought and sometimes, I will understand things deeper myself from an angle I had not considered before. Doubt helps those around us grow in understanding.

What if I have doubt?

Faith is not a perfect knowledge — there is room for doubt to explore what the truth is. Doubt and faith must work together to receive knowledge.

The Bible tells of "Doubting Thomas." (See John 20:24-29) Thomas walked with Jesus, as one of his apostles, witnessing miracles daily, knowing who his master was. The other Apostles all saw the resurrected Jesus, felt His hands, the wound in His side, all of the evidence that he was the resurrected Messiah. When Thomas hears of their experiences, he doubts. It is hard to believe — perhaps he doubts his personal worthiness since he did not experience it with the other men. He doubts.

Eight days later Jesus returned and told Thomas, " "¦ be not faithless, but believing." Thomas was offered to feel the prints in Jesus' hands and all the evidence as well. He gained the knowledge he was seeking. Jesus praised the others who had faith without seeing, but he did not chastise Thomas.

When we work for something, it has more value to us. We cherish it more. We treasure it more. When faith is hard to come by, it is of great worth to the receiver of that faith. I imagine Thomas going through those eight days with a personal inner struggle wishing he could have been there with the other men when Jesus had first visited.

Doubt vs. defiance and pride

Doubt does not need to be prideful. Doubt can be frustrating and can develop into defiant pride. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. The seeds of doubt can spread faster than running water if you let them. Find what you do know and feed that. What you feed will grow.

Faith is also like a seed. When nurtured it will grow. No matter how very small your faith may be, if you are seeking answers, you do in fact have faith.

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