Doubt is something that will creep into the hearts of each and every Christian at some point in their journey with God. I would imagine that this has become a factor more and more as we have progressed in science and technology and come to rest on our own abilities more and more. Thousands of years ago, things were different. Around the world men had their own gods and they rested in the power of these gods for everything, rain, provision, fertility. Nowadays we feel we can provide everything for ourselves, we turn on our taps and we have a never-ending supply of water, quenching our thirst and that of any crops we may grow in our gardens. With an egg and sperm, we can create a human being from a petri dish and we even have the capability of manipulating species to create an entirely new one … just look at all the designer dogs out there!! Less and less we look to God to provide for us and more and more we stand on our own abilities. Thousands of years ago and, indeed, in many faiths and cultures today people see their gods work in everything. They pray for rain and when it rains, they thank their gods, they have a baby and they thank their god for their fertility. They thank their god for the gift and guidance of their elders etc. etc. etc. How often do we as Christians look to God this way? We may say grace and we may show our gratitude to God but moment by moment do we genuinely believe and recognise God’s work in our lives? Meditating on this can be a helpful tool in times of doubt.
If you are in a period of drought and your faith is wavering remember this, you are still a Christian, you are not alone in how you are feeling and you are still a Child of God. I used to allow thoughts of doubt to take hold and go to war in my head. Before long I was back to my old ways and not really feeling like a child of God at all. I neglected to go to church, I neglected to read the Bible and before long my faith had withered away and, in my head, I was no longer a Christian. How wrong I was! How many mistakes I made! Ever since I accepted Jesus into my heart, I have been a Child of God and for eternity this is what I will remain! Accepting this reality is so helpful in our walk and is the one focus we need to cling to no matter whether we are standing on a majestic mountain top or curled up in a putrid pit.
Let us look at some Bible characters and see that they were no strangers to doubt themselves!
- Adam and Eve doubted God when they ate of the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:1-6.
- Abraham did not believe God when he insisted Sarah will bear a child for him, Genesis 17:17-19.
- Sarah did not believe God when he insisted, she will bear a child, Genesis 18:12-14.
- Israel, despite having seen signs of God still refused to believe in Him, Numbers 14:11. This carried on for generations, 2 Kings 17:14.
- Gideon doubted God and asked for proof not just once but twice, Judges 6:36-40
- John the Baptist despite being the chosen one to proclaim the coming of Jesus The Messiah doubted this was the real Jesus, Matt 11:2-3.
- Thomas doubted that Jesus had resurrected insisting he would believe it when he saw it, John 20:24-29.
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1937) – “Faith which does not doubt is dead faith”
Alfred Tennyson, English poet (1809-1892) – “There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.”
These examples above are such an encouragement for our times of doubt. Sometimes we doubt because we are humble enough to ask why me? To awe that there could be such an amazing being such that God is! Of course, other times, we are just being human and resting on our own mind. It is during these desolate times of our lives that we often emerge stronger in faith. This is summed up so well in the quote below:-
Lesslie Newbigin, British United Reformed Church theologian – “The life of faith is a continually renewed victory over doubt, a continually renewed grasp of meaning in the midst of meaningless.”
I am going to leave you with a quote by an English hymn writer called Charlotte Elliot which puts so beautifully our walk-through faith and doubt.
Meantime, have a look at the Bible passages above and be reassured that God is not expecting you to be perfect, no one on this earth is and perhaps many who present themselves righteous in faith, in reality suffer from doubt just as you do but are to proud to admit it!
Love and Blessings