I've been thinking a lot about faith lately.
I have known for a while now that faith doesn't mean God does what you want him to do just because you believe he will.
Nor does it mean He does what you expect him to.
It always used to bug me when people would decide something and then say if they had faith, God would do it for them. Faith is NOT the principal of forcing God to fit your ideas. It doesn't work that way.
Also, I've know that it is a mistake to assume an end result from a beginning point. For example, if Heavenly Father says, "Apply for that job," it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to GET that job. We really can't comprehend what He's doing beforehand (or sometimes even after), and we set ourselves up for disappointment if we start trying to dictate the end from the beginning or mandate Father do what we want.
Believing in God is not a magic "out". Having faith doesn't mean you get rescued or spared hard things in life. It doesn't mean things will go smoothly. It doesn't mean each chapter of your life story has a happy ending or follows the plot outline you wrote for yourself.
It's tempting to say to God, "I'll believe anything you want me to, and say it loud, if you'll just get me out of this difficulty I'm facing." But that's not Faith any more than saying, "If I believe in You, then that's faith, and so if I really believe that this thing I want will happen, then that's faith and so it will because believing in something hard enough makes it happen." No, actually, it doesn't. And you can't trick God into doing what you want just because you tell him you believe in him and will let his will be done (but it's going to be my will, really, because if I SAY he can have his way, he'll give me what I want, right?).
It can be tempting, too, to jump the other way. Instead of believing that God will always do what you want, it's easy to be pessimistic and believe EVERYTHING is going to end up in suffering and misery because life is about gaining experience, and that means hard, miserable suffering right? I remember when I was early in my third pregnancy and had been incredibly sick for several days and then started spotting. I had no insurance, no money, and my husband was out of town. My parents had come to help out, thankfully, and, in tears of grief and terror, I woke my dad in the middle of the night and asked him for a blessing. The blessing said that God knew what was best for our family, and he would take care that the best thing for us happened. Dad went back to bed and I cried myself to sleep, sure I was going to lose my baby because suffering is always the best thing in the long run (where did I get that crazy idea, anyway?!). Eight months later, Daniel was born. It turned out that HAVING the baby was the best thing for our family at that time, not going through the pain of losing a baby. But I was sure that the "best thing for you" always involved afflictions, and I was wrong.
Either way--dictating our own desires or assuming sorrow--it shows a lack of faith.
Because what is Faith? Well, there's this: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/f/1 . That pretty much sums it up.
The thing I've been pondering specifically lately is the connection between faith and real life. It is one thing to say, "God loves us and that He will help us." It's an entirely different thing to really BELIEVE that--in a way that dictates how you feel, what you think, and your actions. If you really truly believe that Jesus atoned for our sins, then do you just say, "Yeah, He did that," or would that belief and knowledge drive you to repent of your sins?
If you really believe that God is watching out for you and that "all things work together for the good of him who loves God" (Romans 8:24, and D&C 90:28, 98:3, 100:15, etc), even when the storms come, and even when things are difficult or don't go the way you expected, then wouldn't that belief change your outlook and your choices?
If we really truly have faith, then we can trust what God has told us--and that means we can act on it, we can change our lives to go along with it, we can make decisions based on that. In short, if we choose to go beyond simply stating belief and let that belief into our souls, then everything should become different.
Faith truly is a principle of action. I guess the conclusions I've come to are best stated at the link above, which says, "All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for." Even when you can't see the end of the tunnel.