EARLEY: How should I handle my doubts of faith?
Is God good?
Can we trust God with everything?
Will God provide for all my needs?
If I tithe will God provide for all my needs?
These and many other questions go through the minds of Christians all the time.
Remember when Jesus came off the mountain of transfiguration and the man asked Jesus if he could heal the man’s son? Jesus challenged him to have faith and he responded with the words that we have all related to at some time in our faith journey, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Doubting Thomas got his name because he had to see Jesus’ wounds before he would believe Jesus was resurrected.
When he did, he exclaimed, “I believe.”
Jesus responded, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
What should we do with our doubts in the journey of faith?
R.C. Sproul writes in his book, “Now, That’s a Good Question!” about a time early in his ministry. He was teaching at a college, and a local minister became gravely ill. He agreed to fill the pulpit. After several months, he got a call one Saturday night that the minister was dying. The minister had been there for 25 years and was dearly loved. His loss would affect the congregation in a powerful way. Sproul kept praying, “God, please let me have a special anointing as I come before these people in their need.”
He preached and celebrated communion, and it went awful. All Sproul felt was the absence of God.
His preaching was dead, and it seemed as if he was talking to himself.
When he pronounced the benediction and went to the back of the church, he couldn’t believe what happened. One after another, the people went on and on about how powerfully they experienced God’s Spirit during worship. That God’s Spirit had ministered to them in a healing way that day.
He thought to himself, “God promised that he would be here. I didn’t feel his presence, and so I thought he wasn’t there. I had become a sensuous Christian, allowing my strength of conviction to be determined by the strength of my feelings… I have got to live by the word of God, not by what I feel. I think that’s how you deal with doubt. You begin to focus on what God says he’s going to do rather than on your feelings.”
Sproul’s words are wise, but difficult to live by in our world dominated by what we feel.
Jeremiah reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
A century ago, the average Christian believed they should trust the Bible first, science second and their feelings third to interpret what is true in their lives.
Today, the order is switched so that feelings are first, science is second and the Bible is third (or lower). This is why so many people, Christians included, believe that truth is relative to the circumstances we find ourselves in. This understanding of reality will lead to all kinds of bad decisions, confusion about how life works, and chasing after all the wrong things.
My challenge for you today is to deal with your doubts so they are resolved to your satisfaction so your faith can grow. Unresolved doubts condemn us to a mediocre faith. It is not a sin for us to have doubts. Sin results when we continue to doubt. When we don’t search to resolve our doubts we will fail to trust God.
What keeps you from believing the Bible is true?
How has that helped you in life? How has that hurt you in life?
Where have you searched to find answers to resolve your doubts? Are those trustworthy sources?
Have you sought out the guidance from people who know what is in the Bible to help interpret the parts you struggle with?
I have been there in my life, lots of doubts and uncertainties about God and his promises in scripture. I have resolved all of them so that I know if there are any places in Scripture I am uncertain the problem is mine, not Scripture. I am completely certain that Scripture is true, and it helps me to live a great life in the Lord with confidence, peace, and conviction. I hope you can find the same if you are struggling in this area.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org.