Asking Hard Questions in the Gospel

Rosemary Wixom describes a spiritually healthy way to respond to tough answers we may receive when asking questions about the gospel.

Image by Michelangelo

“As the questions [grow] harder, so [do] the answers. And sometimes there [are] no answers—or no answers that [bring] peace.” Rosemary Wixom points out in her April 2015 general conference address, “Returning to Faith,” that the process of questioning and receiving answers is a difficulty that many Church members face. It can be soul-stretching to continually ask and receive no direct answer, or to receive an answer that is as soul-stretching as the question itself.

Many members of the Church frequently find themselves backed up against this wall of uncertainty, and these types of questions can cause a battle between faith and fear, trust and doubt.

Sister Wixom says that when we confront difficult questions, doubt doctrines of the gospel, or wonder about specific actions of Church leaders, it can be helpful to take a step back and rebuild faith in basic gospel truths. When we feel as though God does not give us personal answers to specific questions we may have, the answer may be to broaden our scope and to seek reassurance of simple truths such as a living prophet, God’s love and omniscience, or the Restoration.

Faith by nature requires trust in the face of incomplete knowledge, but Sister Wixom reminds us that “our faith can reach beyond the limits of current reason.” Demonstrations of faith in God and his timing may bring specific answers or “quiet, simple assurances.” Most often we will receive divine peace, which can be more powerful and reassuring than the fact-based knowledge we originally requested.

Read Rosemary Wixom’s full address.

—Mark T. Hales, Mormon Insights

Find more insights

Read more about faith in the online book True to the Faith.

Watch or read Barbara Thompson’s conference address “Personal Revelation and Testimony.”

Read “Enduring Well,” a talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell about enduring adversity in faith.

Watch or read a personal account of one man’s journey leaving the Church and then finding his way back.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I think that this is a struggle that lots of members of the Church face today. Members will often let their doubts get the better of them and make them forget the feelings they had during prayers or sacrament meetings. It’s important to keep in mind the little things that made our testimonies in the first place. I liked what Rosemary said about returning to the simple truths. That’s what we need to do when we find ourselves doubting.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this article! I loved reading this talk by Sister Wixom because it makes me think about times I have judged others for their seeming lack of faith. I wish, like the ward Sister Wixom describes, that I could be as willing to love and reach out to those who are struggling.

  3. This is such an important topic! I think that the world in todays time makes it easy for doubts to enter our minds. Like Bryn, I really like Sister Wixom’s explanation of how we need to rely on our faith in the basics of the gospel when those doubts come.

  4. I agree with Sister Wixom’s testimony. I loved when she quoted Elder Uchtdorf by saying, “We are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true.” We cannot judge others for their lack of faith, and w cannot condemn them for the struggles they go through. Sometimes we believe that people bring their own unhappiness upon themselves. Elder Jeffry R. Holland’s talk in the October 2014 General Conference relates to this same topic when he declares, Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don’t the rest of us do exactly the same thing? Isn’t that why this compassionate ruler asks, “Are we not all beggars?”Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?” I agree with both Sister Wixom and Elder Holland. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be happy. I also know that he wants us to help and uplift his other children who are struggling. We are all in this together. I hope that I can be more in tune with the Spirit so that I can know how and who I need to help.

  5. It’s human nature to question, and I love that we are encouraged to search for answers in faith. Wonderful talk and valuable insights!

  6. Rather than condemn or castigate, we are here to comfort not only those who mourn, but those who search for answers. Faith is a journey of discovery and for many the road is not marked clearly and there are many occasions to veer off what so many believe to be a straight and narrow path with no deviations, no detours. Thankful for Elder Holland and Sister Wixom who point out that there are ways to make that personal journey and still continue forward while searching for truth.

  7. This is a great talk. It can be so frustrating when we know that answers must exist somewhere, but we can’t seem to find them, no matter how long we spend studying. The counsel to focus on the simple things may sound cliche, but it’s because it works.

  8. Pingback: Thinking Critically about Our Faith - Latter-day Saint Insights

  9. Pingback: On Trial: Our Dedication to Truth - Latter-day Saint Insights

Leave a Reply

Each comment will be reviewed by a staff member before it will appear on the site. We reserve the right to not approve any comments that do not meet our community standards. View our community standards here.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *