To have feelings of doubt can be a scary thing. Sometimes it’s frowned upon to feel doubt – about your decisions, your life choices, and yes, even your faith. Because, in a sense, it’s as if you’re unsure, you’re second guessing yourself, or even just plain wrong. You’ve probably equated doubt as sinful at one point or another because, in most churches, doubting is looked at as a lack of faith.
Then guilt starts to creep in.
I think we, as a believers, tend to get a lot of judgement passed on us because doubting is considered faith taboo. If you believe in something, you should never doubt it. Right?
Want to know why?
Because to doubt is simply to not be sure of something. It is a lack of understanding. We, as humans, have a finite mind. It is in our nature to doubt, to be curious, to be skeptical, to ask questions. What we don’t understand, we instinctively doubt its authenticity. Our hearts desire truth, to know what is real, therefore we question God.
King David is a prime example of being faith-filled, yet still having doubts. In Psalm 77 he writes about his times of doubt. He cries out in questions, such as “Will the LORD…never again be favorable? Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time?” (verses 7-8) This is the same man who is known in the Bible as “the man after God’s own heart”. Interesting how David is never referred to as a sinful doubter, or a man of little faith. But in his efforts to know and understand God more fully, he questions Him.
Now this isn’t to say that we should doubt and question God to the point of being blasphemous. Or to view our doubt as a dead end. ”Well I don’t understand so forget this.” When our doubts begin to push us towards rebellion and make us question who God is or His authority and power, this is where we must retreat back to our solid foundation and remind ourselves of what we already know is true. But rather, challenging our faith and seeking answers to the honest questions we have is good!
Doubt can very easily take over the battle instead of being commanded by faith – which David does in the verses directly following his doubt-filled please. He fights against his humanly feelings by recalling to mind the truths he does know and is certain of, regarding God and His faithfulness.
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD… I will ponder all Your work and meditate on Your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?” (verse 11-13)
Our Creator is far beyond our comprehension and His ways are not our ways. We do have His Word, though, in which we learn more about His character, and ultimately, His sovereignty. Yet even then, He reveals Himself to us in little sparks rather than an all consuming forest fire. What we know about Him cannot be fit into a human sized box. Think of it as breadcrumbs that we will be following all the way to heaven. We’re never going to understand Him fully, and seeing Him move in our every day lives just acquaints us more with how He works, not His intention for every occurrence that takes place.
This is where faith and doubt unite as our human brains attempt to grasp at Who God is, what He’s doing, and why He’s doing it. Questions like “Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?” or “If God is the Healer, why doesn’t He answer the prayers of the sick and heal them?” These are questions that many people cry out in the midst of pain and suffering. Who wouldn’t? But does this mean that they are sinning because of their lack of understanding, because of their “lack of faith”?
In Mark 9, we are told the story of a father who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus. The father says “…but if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
He used the word “if”, implying that he was doubtful. He showed that he was hopeful by bringing his son to Jesus, yet at the same time, he was worried that his child might be ruled by this evil spirit forever… unless Jesus really could heal him.
Jesus answered the bereaved father by saying, “If I can? All things are possible for one who believes.” Here He is acknowledging that the father indeed was filled with doubt, yet He encourages him to believe.
The words which the father answered Him are ones that are often quoted by many:
“I believe. Help my unbelief!”
If there was ever a moment of raw honesty in the Bible, I think this is it. He not only acknowledged that he had faith, but that he also needed Jesus to help him attain a deeper understanding of the faith he desired.
That is where I want to be.
In moments of pure vulnerability, brutal honesty, telling God that I believe in Him, I have faith in His authority, yet even then, I need more. I want more. I want to know Him deeper, more intimately. I have questions, but I know He has all the answers. I question His ways only because I don’t understand them. I doubt my worthiness of His forgiveness and grace, only because I believe He is holy and just. I am skeptical of His love because it is reckless and unfathomable.
And a truth I do believe in, a cornerstone to my relationship with Christ is this:
“If I am faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
Don’t let doubt and unbelief rule, but instead, let it be part of the journey to seeking Him and asking faith-filled questions with the intention to fall into a deeper relationship with your Creator.
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