Doubt is not so much a sin as it is a problem, and like most problems, it’s best to solve it, as opposed to letting it be a part of our continued existence.
Too often, when a Christian asks a question about God’s goodness, or His ability, or His trustworthiness, the response from others in the room is one of alarm and chastisement:
“Trust in the Lord always! He is good! Amen and amen! Praise Jesus!”
And . . . end of conversation. Whatever provoked or caused the doubt in the Christians’s heart and words hasn’t been addressed, and all we’ve really gotten across is that you, as usual, don’t believe the way you’re supposed to; you, as usual, are at fault for your lack of belief; and you, as usual, should just keep quiet and pretend you have no problems.
Just like the rest of the people in the room are doing.
But doubt is part of our lives for a reason, most notably so that we don’t accept everything we’re told without questioning, and if you are doubting something about God, it’s good to admit it — to yourself, to God; you don’t have to announce it to the panicky people drinking bad coffee in the back of the hall — and ask Him to walk you through it.
Because, ultimately, we want to trust in a good, loving, compassionate God who is all powerful, all knowing, and all wise. The alternative — that we’re pretty much stuck with circumstances as they hit us in the face, here, and that in the afterlife things will look kind of the same, with some people having so much more and others, like us, having so much less — is something we can’t accept.
And we shouldn’t.
We Should Doubt Wrong Teaching
Perhaps we are doubting because what we have been taught is wrong — like the pervasive teaching that all we have to do is pray God’s verses over someone, and they’ll be healed (and they’re not, say) or when we ask for anything in His name we’ll get it, because He says so (John 14: 14), and the money doesn’t come.
So we reasonably, and sensibly, ask, “Why? Is it you, God, or is it something about the way I’m understanding things?”
I know it doesn’t seem fair, but 100 percent of the time the answer appears to be the latter. And the only Person who can enable us to understand things better is God Himself, so no matter how hard we try, we can’t run away from Him.
There are two major things we humans consistently doubt about God:
1) His ability
2) His goodness,
and one of the best Bible accounts illustrating both of these is the story of Jesus falling asleep in the boat with His disciples when a storm comes up (Luke 8: 22-25; Matthew 8: 23-27; and Mark 4: 36-40).
“Where Is Your Faith?”
Now what many of us have traditionally been taught regarding this story is that the disciples should have trusted Jesus because he had told them, “We’re going to the other side.” That makes sense. But consider this as well:
In all three accounts, the disciples express amazement — and terror — that this man in the boat with them has the ability to command the waves and the water. In other words, He did far more than they thought He could, so when Christ asks them, after He calms the storm, “Where is your faith?” He could have been asking, “Do you not believe that I can do all things?”
In Mark 4: 38, the disciples wake Jesus up with the phrase,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
So, not only do they doubt Christ’s ability to take care of the situation, they also doubt His caring enough about them to do so.
You ever felt that way?
Work Through Your Doubt
I, personally, struggle on a regular basis with trusting God’s goodness; instilling doubt about this goodness is one of Satan’s first and best lies. While I can clearly see God’s hand in the lives of others, a small part of me is convinced that He’s a bit busy, or distracted, or asleep in the stern with his head on a cushion, when it comes to my needs, and that’s why it’s taking so long for particular prayers to be answered.
The disciples’ words are comforting because they illustrate that I, and you, and the panicky people drinking coffee in the back of the room, are not alone in this thought, the only person in history who has thought this way. We walk away from the passage feeling comforted, as opposed to chastised because we’re such miserable slobs who . . . doubt.
Do not run away from doubt, and do not accept that you must live with it. Left unchecked, doubt has the power to erode belief, but squarely faced and tackled, it can lead us forward. Recognize that it will show up — often at the most inopportune times — and instead of reacting with recoil —
“I shouldn’t doubt! I shouldn’t doubt! I shouldn’t doubt!”
bring the issue to God and say,
“You are compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet you do not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34: 6-7)
“Please, teach me Who you are.”
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. I have drunk a lot of bad coffee in my time, and been told many times, “Praise Jesus! You need to just TRUST Him!” It’s hard to respond, because generally the person who just said that turns around and starts talking to someone else.
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