Faith and doubt…
Faith and doubt…These two little words are so hard for me to grasp at times. These are such small words with a huge impact on our lives. Do we live in faith, trusting God with each day, each moment? Or do we doubt? Doubt that he cares about us or the little details of our lives, or doubt that he exists, that Jesus is truly the only way to heaven?
Faith is trusting in things that we can not see. Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). Jesus knew that it would be harder to have faith when we had not seen, and because of this He promised blessing for our faith.
Doubt is very real also and God open my eyes to a different view of doubt while I was reading, “Different” by Sally and Nathan Clarkson. It is a wonderful story about an amazing mom who did whatever possible to raise her son who struggled not only with learning issues but also with ODD, anxiety, and OCD. Reading about how she parented her child with love and patience has truly inspired me in my own parenting.
There was a gentle knock at my bedroom door. “Come in,” I quavered.
My mother stepped through the door and into my room. With eyes glued to the floor, I slowly swung my desk chair to face her. Concern field her bright-blue eyes as she sat down gently on my bed.
“Is everything okay Nathan?” she asked.
I didn’t answer immediately. I decided that the words I had been rehearsing just weren’t good enough and began searching my brain for better ones.
Then, finally, I could hold it in no longer. I had to release the pressure no matter what the outcome. So I just blurted it out.
“I have doubts about God.”
There was a pregnant silence. I prepared for the worst. Then I quickly shot a glance up to see what damage had been done.
Concern faded into a soft smile as she looked at me.
“Me too,” she said.
My brow furrowed as I let her reply sink in.
“You do? “
“Of course. Everyone does, even the strongest of believers.”
A comforting warmth crept over me. I wiped my hands on my pants.
“I want to believe in God. It’s just I don’t always know He’s there. What should I do when I feel like that?” I asked.
My mother looked up at the ceiling as if God was sitting there, telling her what to say. Then she looked back at me.
“Keep talking to God. Tell Him your questions and doubts, the things you want to know, and the things you don’t understand.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Nathan, God is big enough for all your questions, and He wants to hear them all.”
As I pondered that, I felt my angst slowly fad away, making room for a brand-new view of this mysterious God I had so many questions about. I learned that day that questions are beautiful and that doubt is part of being human.
Isn’t that beautiful?
Her words to her son made me realize that while we should not sit and let doubt consume us, those feelings of doubt are normal. Not something to be ashamed of! But almost like another way for God to draw us closer to Him! Our Father created us to be inquisitive, He loves our questions! So take those doubts to God!
But no one wants to stay in doubt-land.
So how do we grow our faith?
Some of our faith-growth comes from our experiences with God:
- If we spend time with Him each day, whether we are “feeling” it or not, we will begin to see Him work.
- As we pray throughout the day we will then begin to see more and more answered prayers.
- When we study the Bible each day we learn more and more about His character, how He interacts with the men and women of the Bible. We learn about His amazing love for us (John 3:16), and His righteousness. We learn about Jesus and how precious we are to Him. How God works all things for our good (Jeremiah 29:11).
All of this builds our trust and faith in Him.
But what about the times when we are like Peter? We step out of the boat in faith, but then begin to doubt and sink? I feel that I do this a lot, what about you? This is when we must look to God’s work and take Jesus’ example.
In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus is talking to, guess who, Peter, again. He is referencing when Peter will deny Him three times and it says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32). But Peter is a little too confident, and we all know what happens.
The Importance of Prayer
God apportions each of us a measure of faith. Therefore our faith comes from Him. Which means if we want more faith, we need to ask for it. Pray for our own faith and for the faith of our friends and loved ones!
Here is a prayer for faith by John Piper from his article, “God has Allotted to Each a Measure of Faith“:
“O Lord, thank You for my faith. Sustain it. Strengthen it. Deepen it.
Don’t let it fail. Make it the power of my life,
so that everything I do You get the glory as the great Giver. Amen”
I am often reminded of the man from the Bible who says, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” ( Mark 9:24). This is my prayer!
Having doubts is not something to be ashamed of. Take them to God, spend time in His word, and pray for Him to strengthen your faith! He will! He loves you so!