To doubt something is to feel uncertain about it, to lack conviction. The word is also closely associated with fear. (See the definition of doubt in the Oxford Dictionary.)
When new evidence calls an accepted fact into question, reasonable people will begin to doubt what they thought they knew before. This is wise, and is part of the process of learning and growing. However, sometimes, particularly when we are working to achieve a difficult goal, the roadblocks we face can cause us to question our course of action. We can forget the reasons for our original confidence. We can become fearful. As a result, we might give up halfway through the process, or simply make a halfhearted and inconsistent effort.
Success in any endeavor requires commitment, and it is impossible to commit when we are plagued by doubt.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of a massive war. Helaman, who was the leader of the church, led a group of 2,000 young warriors. He was impressed with their attitude as they faced their first daunting battle:
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it (Alma 56:47-48).
The battle was fierce, but when it was over, not one of these young men had died. Helaman said that they “fought as with the strength of God” (Alma 56:56).
Their second battle had the same outcome–every one of these young men survived. Helaman said that the entire army was astonished:
And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe–that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.
Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually (Alma 57:26).
In order to accomplish anything meaningful, we have to be able to commit. If we change course every time something or someone calls into question our course of action, then we will be unable to sustain our efforts toward long-range goals. Of course there are times for reflection and for refining or even updating our goals. But we also need the ability to make and keep commitments without questioning ourselves every step of the way.
How do we overcome the doubts which will inevitably arise along the journey? By remembering why we started the journey in the first place. Like these young soldiers, who had learned to trust God by internalizing the words of their mothers, we can anchor ourselves to true principles, so that when troubling times come, we are not tempted to abandon ship.
Today, I will trust in the Lord. I will strive to emulate the faith of these young warriors, overcoming my doubts by anchoring myself to true principles.