Doubt and Trust
If I’m honest, I often doubt God. There’s not much in my life that would cause me to doubt. I think I have a pretty good life, and God has blessed me with much. With a roof over my head, food in my fridge, a beautiful wife who loves me and seeks the best for me, three beautiful children. I have the blessing of serving my God and his church full-time. There’s much that I can be thankful for. But for some reason, my mind is often left with doubt. I doubt God’s goodness or wonder if there is any good that can come out of the situation. It’s really crazy how my mind works. Spurgeon said it well when he said, “He who now feebly expounds these words knows within himself more than he would care or dare to tell of the abysses of inward anguish …. Terrors are turned upon me, they pursue my soul as the wind.” In Mark 9:24, a man faced with an ill child cried out in response to Jesus’ retort to him about his doubt. The father’s response was an immediate cry of, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
If we are honest with one another, there has been a time in our Christian walk that we have felt the mix of belief and doubt. If we are honest, that may be right now as we face walk through a global pandemic. It is times like this that we need to be reminded that it’s through the realization of our inadequacy that allows God to work in our lives. Is this not even more true when we dwell on our salvation? Salvation comes to inadequate sinners who realize their need and ask for forgiveness. In Luke 18:9-14, we see that it’s impossible for “righteous” people to be saved on our own work. If you’re like me, you have spent a lifetime in church learning the stories of the Bible, and you know what the Bible says. As we’ve learned these accounts of God at work, we have been taught that we do trust God to take care of and direct our lives, but sometimes we are faced with something that seems to overpower our faith. It’s a time when doubt rises.
I was reminded of this as I was reading through Genesis 18 and 19. In these chapters, the Lord shows up to Abraham and Sarah right before he goes to destroy Sodom. In this passage, the Lord tells Abraham that he will have a son, and Sarah will be the one that. Sarah doubts to the point that she laughs. She lays out all of her logical reasoning for how she will not have a baby.
So let’s continue to be honest as we think about this narrative and think about passages like Romans 8:24: how often do we doubt in our circumstances that God will work out all things for the good of those who love him? Or how often do we question God’s control? His sovereignty? His use of our circumstances to bring hi glory and to refine us? To know that the circumstances we find ourselves in, are actually being used for our good? How often do we feel that God can’t or won’t do anything?
It’s passages like Genesis 19:13 that says, The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” I think like Sarah, we find ourselves in a circumstance when it’s easy to doubt God. We come up with all the logical thoughts that say God won’t or can’t do something. But what do we learn from this narrative? A year later, the Lord’s words are true; Sarah does have a son. God was faithful. He completed his promise. He accomplished the purposes he set out. He did exactly what he said he would do. Sarah’s doubts and fears were overcome by the truth of God.
In your life, you may face realities, much like Sarah or the child’s father, and it seems we do not have enough faith to follow Him in that moment. So what should our response be? How do we deal with it? We ask for more faith. We acknowledge that even our faith comes from God. It is His work in our lives that enables us to believe and obey.
As always, we can ask for what we need. When we doubt, we can ask for more faith. When we are wavering in our resolve to follow, we can ask for more resolve. When we are unwilling to obey, we can ask to be made willing. The Christian knows that his faith and obedience are always deficient, and he will frequently ask God to enable him to live the life that pleases God. If left to our own strength and our own faith, we would never make it. Even more importantly, when I look into God’s Word, I see over and over and over again how he is faithful to his people, how he uses the circumstances they find themselves in for their good and his glory. I’m reminded, in my doubt, that I can trust him. It is so important to be in God’s Word because it’s there I come face to face with a living God. We have a Lord and Saviour who loves, cares, is holy, just, grace, merciful, and infinity good. In the midst of fear, run to the one who is in control. It’s in God’s Word I see doubt confronted with the truth of who our God is.