Doubt. It's what can depress us. It's what can confuse us. It can anger us. Frustrate, annoy, and gnaw at us. Without it, wouldn't our faith be a perfect faith?
Jesus said that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, then we could move the mountains. I remember when I was little, I wanted to test that theory. I thought I had at least that much faith. So as my family drove through the Canadian Rockies for our summer vacation, I told the mountains to MOVE. They didn't. And you know what? I wasn't surprised. I was disappointed, but not really surprised.
I think that's the key factor. We may tell each other that we believe that Jesus can do anything. But nobody has the faith that telling a mountain to move will make it move. It took me a while to realize that. There's a difference between faith, and wishful thinking. Can anybody really say that if they went to a mountain and told it to jump, they would completely, 100% expect it to jump? Of course not! We know that mountains don't jump. Even if we had a suspicion that it might jump, we would be shocked if it did. And if we're shocked that it worked, wouldn't that mean that we didn't have the faith in the first place?
Absolute faith. Wow. It's such a foreign concept... but so appealing. Imagine how drastically different our lives would be if we had 100% faith that Jesus was with us all the time. Or that we never for a second doubted that we were heaven-bound. What if we saw every person we came across as a king or a queen- or in other words, the way God sees them. It's a little embarrassing to admit it, but my life would be quite a lot different if I had complete faith.
It feels like my faith sometimes comes in spurts. Sometimes, I'll be all jazzed up, feeling on top of the world. I will totally be sensing God's closeness, and feel all exhilarated about life. I'll feel pumped and excited to live for God.
But then, there's those other nights. Maybe I'll be praying about someone's desperate situation or a personal conflict. Maybe I'll be praying about a heart issue or struggle... basically, a burden. Those are the times when God doesn't seem so close. In fact, sometimes it feels like He's not there at all! I'll be frank with you. Sometimes the doubts from the devil enter my mind, and like a lurking shadow, it hints at the worst possible thought: God's not real.
Am I the only one who has these troubles? The moment those thoughts enter my head, I usually end up in tears. I am angry at myself, stressed over the questions that I have, depressed, confused, and alone. I know in my heart that God's not dead, that he's alive and well, but my all-too-human brain likes to contradict that truth.
When these thoughts flood my head, I begin to feed them. Unintentionally of course, but it seems that I can't help it. I start to think of everything going wrong. All my unanswered questions- everything that doesn't make sense, it's like a tidal wave of the Deceiver's work, just trying to trip me up.
But you know why that's not gonna work? Because it isn't true.
hat's true is true. Lies may deceive some of us, but ultimately, what is true is still true, even if it is hidden. Concealed truth is still truth. The truth will set us free.
So those times when I feel like everything is pointing to the non-existence of Christ, I stop myself. I tell the devil to stop. I plead to God that he will drive those thoughts away, and then, I ponder the TRUE evidence- the evidence all around me pointing to the obvious existence of the One True God.
What causes me to question the Truth?
1. I don't understand the situations going on around me.
Okay, so something terrible is happening to me, or someone I know. Does that mean God doesn't exist? Of course not! How many times in the Bible did it seem like everything was falling apart, but in the end, God shone through? COUNTLESS times! Paul was struck blind. Pharaoh denied Moses. Esther's people were destined to doom. Job was stripped of everything he loved. Gideon's army dwindled down to 300 men. (And by the way, they were facing an army of at least 135,000.)
There are so many things in the Bible that I don't understand. But just because I don't understand why God did what He did doesn't mean anything. He has the most infinitely complex, imaginative, and wise mind. Mine could never compare. All I know for sure is that He is righteous. Therefore, everything He does is righteous. I try to take it by faith, and trust that He understands, but I could never grasp it because His righteousness is too far beyond my unrighteous mind. Makes sense, doesn't it? If His perfect righteousness is unreachable by our unrighteous selves, how could our unrighteous minds even begin to understand why He does what He does? The fact that we can't comprehend Him actually lines up perfectly with who He is in contrast with who we are.
A while ago, I was listening to one of my relatives preach in church. He brought up a very good analogy. Arguing with God about the way he is running this world or about what's happening in our lives can be compared to this scene: A man sits down to watch "Pilgrim's Progress." About halfway through the movie, his friend walks in the door, walks past the TV, glances at the screen, and keeps walking. Later, he argues about the plot with the man who had seen the whole thing.
Our lives are SO short when compared with history, and what is yet to come. We are merely blips on the radar screen. How can we even imagine that we know how things are supposed to work, while God has a.) Seen all that is going to happen; b.) remembers every distinct detail of history; and c.) PLANNED the future according to his purpose? It's ridiculous! You say you trust in God? Trust in His plan. Trust in His perfect timing.
Romans 8:28 - For we know that God works out all things for the good of those who love Him.
2. I don't feel like He's here with me.
So, what? What about the times that I felt His presence? What about all the ways He's revealed Himself to me and my family throughout our lives? If I believe in Jesus Christ, I'm saying that I believe in God's promises. And one of His most famous promises is: "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I am blind. Not literally, but often spiritually. God is not visible to our human eyes. We cannot normally see the Spiritual Realm and forces moving around us. We are completely oblivious to God's messengers, and Satan's demons. But just because we cannot see them all the time doesn't make them unreal. Just because we don't totally feel God all the time doesn't mean He's not there! Have you ever thought that maybe the reason you can't feel Him is because you're not letting Him near you?
As my sorrowful self sits there, in tears, feeling so alone and cut off from God, I realize something. All my worries and fears- I'm holding on to them. They're bogging me down. They're causing me to doubt God's goodness. They're isolating me from Him. What was one of His loving commands? 1 Peter 5:7 - "Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you." I hold on so tightly to my struggles, that I don't surrender them to God! How can there be room for the presence of God if I am trapped by my own worries and anxieties?
Every time I let my burdens go, every time I cast them on Jesus, I feel lighter. Almost literally. God's Holy Spirit reassures me that He will make all things work out for my good. He's taken care of it. If you really stop and think about how God can already see what's coming up, how He actually sees in this moment how everything will turn out, it's comforting. I can just picture God patting our shoulders when we're stressed over the future and telling us, "Don't worry. Just trust me. I have it all planned- you just have to believe that it will all work out. There's no need to fear, just leave it up to Me."
3. I begin to think that without proof, there is no truth.
Yes, I am often tempted to believe this. But then, I have heard countless stories of encounters with angels. My parents have some! Family friends! I read about a family member just today who believes she had an encounter with an angel! And don't even get me started on miracles. Sooooo many miraculous healings have happened in my lifetime, and beyond. Some have been personal! Angels are real! There is no denying that fact, people.
Furthermore, I've experienced the Spiritual Realm, myself. Not too long ago, I heard, with my own two ears, a demon. I was up north in a Native community, talking to two friends as we lay in our sleeping bags, waiting to fall asleep. The glow of the TV screen flickered, and then we began to hear something. It was quiet at first, but unmistakable. I remember feeling the hairs on my neck stand straight up, and I could feel my eyes grow to be as wide as saucers as I stared in utmost fear at my friend as the low-voiced, evil laughter filled the house. It sounded like the most haunting, villainous laugh, ever. It was hovering around the house, going in circles... orbiting us. It lasted for maybe one minute, maybe ten. As it slowly faded away and the electricity returned, we were left there, our hearts drumming inside our chests. We had all heard it. And I'm sure they remember it as clearly as I do.
Friends, I don't tell you that story to scare you. It still scares me, but it shouldn't. I know that Jesus is on my side, and the armies of Heaven's angels are protecting me. The reason I share this story is because I'm glad it happened. When I tell others about it, they shudder saying "Oh, please don't scare me!" I agree, it's terrifying. I wouldn't want to experience it again. It was the coldest, starkest fear I can remember. But it was proof. Proof of what, you ask? Let me ask you: How can there be dark, without light? How can there be light, without dark? What I mean is, if there are dark and evil forces out there, there has to be a good side. There has to be light! If there are demons, then there must be angels. And if there are angels, there must be a God!
It's one thing to hear people's fantastic stories of their encounters with the Spiritual Realm, but it's another thing when you experience it yourself. Perhaps there have been more encounters in my lifetime, and I simply haven't recognized them. All I know is one time was enough. Whenever I doubt the existence of God, I remind myself of that petrifying night, and I know. God was protecting me.
Friction, I believe, refines our faith.
Even when I doubt the truth, the truth still prevails. Like sandpaper smoothing out rough wood, so the friction and doubt shapes my faith. Faith that stands through trial is strengthened. Trust that endures through the Valley is fortified.
1 Peter 1:6-8 - So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- through your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even through you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
My eyes are on the prize- the prize being my treasure in heaven. My faith is set on Christ Alone, and in His power, I stand.