Once upon a time there was a child who had strep throat. His parents took him to the doctor who confirmed that it was strep throat and prescribed an antibiotic. The child was given the antibiotic and the child recovered from the strep throat.
OK, that’s a boring story. But, I am using it as an illustration to better explain the differences between faith and doubt.
There are a couple of things that I’d like to point out which God has pointed out to me in my times of doubt. First,
God is not afraid of your doubts.
God knows we all have doubts. He’s not concerned or afraid that your doubts will sabotage your faith, so relax. Just doubting is not enough to cause the fires of hell to lap up at your feet. Doubting will not cause God to strike you with lightening.
Start viewing your doubts as legitimate questions. Begin to see your doubts as an opening for a constructive dialogue with God.
That is what God is after. Jesus loves you and is very interested in your questions, enigma’s and your point of view. That is the beginning of conversation and God loves conversation with you because He loves hearing what’s on your mind. He didn’t create computers or robots but living, intelligent humans.
God may have placed this very question, this very contradiction or conundrum within your mind to get you to searching for the answer. He encourages us to dig deeper.
There are deeper places in the scriptures that He loves to show all of us but only those who are willing to put in the time and the effort get any kind of reward of an explanation.
Don’t be afraid of your doubts. Don’t push your doubts away as if the act of pushing is an act of faith. It’s not. Doubts don’t turn into faith but digging down deeper for God’s secrets and hidden meanings in the bible, through prayer while holding on tightly to Jesus increases our faith. The increased faith from our acts of seeking Him out dispel our doubts.
This is why I gave the lame example at the beginning of this post. The strep throat is what I am using in place of doubts. Doubts feel like they are eroding your faith. They bring your progress forward to a halt. So does strep throat. I’ve never found I could think about anything else when I had strep throat except how much it hurt. Strep brings all activities of daily life to an abrupt halt. So do doubts. They feel like they bring my peaceful relationship with Jesus to an abrupt halt. I feel that something intangible but very real has suddenly shielded Jesus from my mind’s eye.
So, what do we do?
We don’t work to decrease our doubts but rather we work to apply our faith.
We apply what faith we still have, what we can proclaim for certain about Jesus and about the Father that we do not doubt. We dig in deeper into the bible for answers and wait it out. Just like taking the antibiotic to cure the strep throat. We take the medicine and we wait it out.
That brings us to my sixth thought,
By applying faith we decrease doubts powerful vice grip over us. We bring down the overinflated balloon that has obscured our view of Jesus. We allow God time to decrease the sting and the hugeness of our doubt.
Seventh, I’d like to point out,
If God were in the business of dispelling doubts He would be as a fireman Who is always running around putting out fires in the human mind/heart. God isn’t looking to decrease your doubts. He’s looking to increase your faith.
There is no scripture that I’ve ever heard of where God proclaims to have any interest in decreasing your doubts. All the scriptures that I find about faith reassure me that what He’s looking to do is to increase our faith and the doubts will disappear like antibiotics do with strep.
Our God is a God Who loves. He loves you and He wants you to prosper in your relationship with His Son, Jesus. He wants you to be mature and well-grounded in the bible. He wants you to be able to withstand the world’s attempts at victimizing you with much more ease than you do now.
After Joseph’s brothers threw him in a well for him to die, he was plucked out of the well and brought to live in the King’s house, he was raised up to a man of great importance and he met his brothers again this is what he had to say,
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20 (NLT)
So, are doubts an enemy or are they our friend? If they propel us towards seeking God further then they have become our friend. If we use them as an excuse to disbelieve because we don’t really want to put in the time or energy then they’ve become our ally against our faith.
Which brings me to a note of caution,
By making the choice of pursuing a deeper relationship with God and searching out His heart on a matter, you are moving forward and growing in Christ.
But, once you put your hand to that plow you cannot look back. God doesn’t like people who learn the truth and then shrink back as if they never heard the truth at all.
By choosing to pull back or to let doubt overrun your faith you are still making a choice and God sees it. It’s a choice in favor of your doubt.
You are choosing to ignore His calling for you to come closer to Him because you don’t really want the relationship that badly. Or it is because you really didn’t want to get into that much work or put in that much effort. Dispelling the doubt wasn’t really that important to you and you begin to feel a sense of peace that you were right all along. It wasn’t a doubt, now it’s proof. That is when you’ve exchanged the truth for a lie, drop the whole ‘getting to know God’ thing and live your life the way you want to. But, be warned that’s not the path to eternal life that Jesus promised.
The very Christians who wrote the books, gave the sermons, endured the mission field, etc, all had the same doubts. But, they used their doubts to fertilize their faith.
Their doubts didn’t stop them but urged them on. The answers that they received from God when their doubts were high and their faith was low became their battle cry. It propelled them forward to writing the books, giving the sermons and striking out onto the mission field. When faced with a dilemma that urged them to stop they chose to take that as an encouragement to move in closer to God until their faith could overcome their doubts.
So, before you go about asking all the questions that doubts bring up in your mind, as yourself this, “Am I willing to pursue this even if it means the road to the answers will be tough?”
That’s what I mean about THE MIDDLE OF THE GARDEN. It’s all about choice. Which tree will I eat from today? I still think that if the whole of the bible could be narrowed down to one word of what God requires of us it would be, ‘choose’.
Joshua 24:15 “….then choose this day whom you will serve…”
This is Janet Williams in the Middle of the Garden…..a blog to see!