Doubting

Yesterday we started discussing how we “deal with doubt.”  Today I wanted to come clean with you.

I don’t really struggle with doubt.

That’s how I might have started this post five years ago. I would have been partially truthful. I don’t really struggle with believing that there IS a God, that His Son is Jesus, and that He has a plan for salvation.

But I do doubt.  I just didn’t always label it as doubt.

On Monday I confessed to worrying. I combat worry on a daily basis. One of the supreme ways that worry manifests itself in my life is through the guise of anxiety and frustration. I like those words because my translation of the Bible doesn’t have Jesus saying, “Do not be frustrated or anxious” the way that he declares, “Do not worry.”

But upon further study I realized that living with anxiety was no godlier than living with worry.  In fact, the words are interchangeable in most translations. (DRAT.)  And besides, there are plenty of verses throughout Scripture that address anxiety.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10, NASB

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and “petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6, NIV

I have a piece of paper in my Bible with the following quote from Oswald Chambers, “Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.”

Anxiety and worry are distrust in God. That may be nothing new to you, but for me it has been eye-opening. I hadn’t ever associated anxiety with doubt. I think I just imagined it had something to do with my need for control rather than my doubt that His plans were really the best for me.

Let me give you an example. Just two years ago I was at a huge crossroads in my life. I was contemplating making a move back to Texas and had a ton of anxiety in regards to work, relationships, and life in general. I felt as though I had misread God’s Will and had somehow gotten off track. It was easier for me to associate pain and discomfort with discipline rather than something God might use to draw me closer to Him.  Things weren’t going my way so I felt stressed.  I didn’t see relief in sight so I became worried.  When answers didn’t come in my timing I became frustrated and anxious.  I was in fact doubting His goodness in the midst of my present mess.

For some of us it’s easy to have faith in the Almighty God who can create the world from nothingness and who orchestrates the days, the hours, and the minutes of our lives.  That’s where I generally find myself.  But if that’s you,  would you stop and ask yourself this: “But do I trust Him? Do I trust Him with my days, hours, and minutes? Do I trust Him even more with the ones I hold so precious in my heart?”

It’s tempting to let distrust remain in my heart, to try and claim that I don’t have doubts. But the truth is we all have moments of doubts mixed with moments of clarity and belief. It’s been that way since the beginning of time since the serpent asked Eve if she was certain that God really did love her.

My hope is that we would come clean in the midst of our doubts.  My prayer is that we would take steps to know and trust Him more and more each day… knowing that our faith will be perfected when we see Him face to face.

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-22, NIV

Following,
Ginger

Dealing with Doubt

Ok, Ginger I have another question if you don’t mind… :)
How do you deal with doubt? – TC

TC – I don’t mind at all!  Thanks so much for sending another great question.  A few things stuck out to me when I first read your question.

1.  Doubt is a HUGE topic.  In order to try and tackle it in a timely manner I’m going to take today and tomorrow to try and touch on different aspects.  If you still feel like I haven’t answered your specific arena of doubt, feel free to comment or send in a follow-up question.

2.  Your verb choice was interesting.  I looked up the word “deal” in the dictionary because I felt it actually had a negative connotation.  Here’s what I discovered as one of the many definitions: To take action with regard to someone or something <deal with an offender>. I think that’s why I perceived it negatively.  Why would you deal positively with an offender?  The truth is, doubt tends to have a really bad rap in the church.  Here’s what I mean…

Doubt from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

My impression is that some of us spend a ton of energy trying to hide our doubts.  We fear that if anyone else knew our thoughts that they would look at us in a totally different and negative light.

Check out the verse passage from Mark that I referenced at the end of the video.

 17-18A man out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”

 19-20Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.

 21-22He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”

   “Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

 23Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

 24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

 25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up. (Mark 9:18-27, The Message)

This man has both belief and doubt in the same breath. He comes to Jesus with both. He doesn’t pretend. He’s desperate to see his son healed and so he puts it all in front of Jesus. Why pretend in front of God? Certainly He knows our hearts.

The truth (and sometimes very difficult truth at that) is that we serve a big God who does things that we will not understand.

BUT…

He is big enough for our doubts and He is big enough to increase our faith.

“How unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us; no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us” -A. W. Tozer

“All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” -Eugene Peterson

Following,
Ginger