1 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.
2 And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.
(3 Nephi 12:1-2)
People dislike uncertainty. We see this in financial markets, where prices become more volatile when the future seems less predictable. We see it in our individual lives as well: We may procrastinate important decisions when many of the factors influencing the outcome of those decisions are unknown.
The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A disciple of Christ is willing to act in the face of uncertainty, because they trust Him. This requires us to override our natural instincts, to take some risks, and to stretch ourselves in ways that may be uncomfortable.
Alma taught the Zoramites that uncertainty is an essential element of faith:
Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.
Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it (Alma 32:17-18)
After the death and resurrection of the Savior, He appeared to some of His disciples and showed them the wounds on His body. Thomas, who was not with them at the time, expressed skepticism at their story: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Shortly afterward, he saw the Savior, who invited him to touch His wounds. Jesus then delivered a gentle rebuke, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:19-29).
In the passage above, the Savior provides similar guidance to a group of people on the American continent. They saw Him descend from the sky, and He invited them to touch His hands, feet, and side. Then, He made the following promises:
- They would be blessed if they would follow the guidance of the twelve disciples He had chosen to lead them, and if they would be baptized.
- Other people would be more blessed by doing the same things, based only on the words of His listeners.
Why are we more blessed when we obey with less certainty? Maybe it’s because we have to work harder under those circumstances, and that spiritual work makes us stronger. Perhaps it is also because we demonstrate our love for God when that love is tested. Trusting God under adverse circumstances is a powerful way to show our abiding love for Him.
Today, I will remember that faith requires uncertainty. I will choose to follow God’s guidance even when I am unsure how things will work out. I will remember that we are “more blessed” when we make good decisions with imperfect information.