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I want to talk about a subject that is often times hard for us to talk openly and honestly about as Christians: doubt. No matter if you are new to Christianity, or if you have been attending church since the very first week you were born, chances are you’ve dealt with a moment or two (okay, maybe a handful of moments) of doubt throughout your faith journey. One this is for sure, and that is that none of us are alone in this struggle.
Here is a little background as to where this post is coming from: This last week has brought in a lot of mixed feelings for me. The holiday season has always filled me with joy, excitement, and hopeful anticipation. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my absolute favorite time of year; however, this year is different.
This year, there has been a dark cloud looming over the approach of this holiday season, containing my questions of “why’s,” “what if’s,” and “what could’ve been’s.” Because, as Christmas approaches, so does my due date for the baby I lost in May of this last year. (If you haven’t already, you can read about my story here.) December 23rd is a date that has been taunting me as it nears. I thought maybe I could somewhat soften the blow of this day by getting pregnant again before it arrived. However, if I’ve learned anything in 2017, it’s that I am not in control, and I need to let go and let God. While this hasn’t happened yet, this day is going to be a difficult one, no matter my current circumstances. As the date approaches, and the pregnancy tests continue to remain stark white month after month, I find myself going right back to where I was many months ago–angry, frustrated, and doubting.
The thing about grief is that it comes in waves, and it never “goes away.” And if I’m being honest, it has brought about feelings of doubt. Sometimes, I feel as thought the trials I have endured this year brought me closer to God than I have ever been. But at other times, I feel as though I couldn’t be further away from Him, and I have questioned Him and His plan for me more times than I can count.
I recently have been working through a devotional called Unbeaten by Lindsey Bell (click to view on Amazon), and one of the entries I read the other day was overwhelmingly convicting. You know that feeling after you read something that meets you right where you’re at and gives you the very words you desperately needed hear at that moment? Yep, it was one of those. Goosebumps. In this entry, Bell talked about how even the strongest Christians have been faced with doubt. In fact, many of the greatest heroes of the Bible struggled with doubting God. After reading this devotional, I decided to dig in and reflect on these heroes’ struggles (leading me to write this post today).
Abraham and Sarah were two of the most important and well-known characters in the Old Testament. They were faithful to God through the numerous trials they endured throughout their lives. Abraham left absolutely everything he had ever known in order to obey God’s command and move to a foreign land. What a leap of faith! Yet in Genesis 17:17, we find that Abraham laughed in disbelief at God after He told him that Sarah would bear him a son. Sarah’s reaction in chapter 18:12 was similar–she also laughed at the thought of bearing a child for Abraham in her old age. The God who they had trusted faithfully for so many years had spoken directly to them of this great promise, yet they couldn’t bring themselves to believe that He could fulfill it.
One of my favorite Bible stories growing up was the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18. As I’m sure you can recall, God displayed his power by igniting Elijah’s soaking wet altar after Baal’s prophets were unable to do so. The fire God sent down burned everything up in its path, including the trench of water surrounding the altar. Even so, just a few verses later, in chapter 19, Elijah became afraid for his life and asked God to let him die. How could someone who had just seen the crazy awesome power of God displayed right in front on him, become filled with doubt and fear, and lose all hope so quickly?
Moving to the New Testament, one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, had a moment of doubt after the resurrection. In John 20:24-29, we read that Thomas did not believe the other disciples when they told him Jesus had risen from the dead. Thomas wanted proof, and he didn’t get over his doubt until he saw Jesus for himself a whole week later. How humbling it is to know that even one of Jesus’ own disciples, someone who had listened to his teachings and witnessed the numerous miracles he performed throughout his ministry, struggled with his own unbelief.
I could go on with stories of other characters who doubted God throughout the Bible–Moses, David, Jeremiah, Job–the list goes on. In the end, these stories bring me comfort and encouragement in knowing that I am not alone when I face this struggle. If you are currently doubting that God’s plan for your life is good, and that it’s what’s best for you, you are not the first, and you won’t be the last. If you are doubting the power of God–if he is so powerful and mighty, then why didn’t he (you fill in the blank: save my baby, cure or prevent this illness, stop the terrorists, etc.)–know that so many others have also walked the very same road. Even the strongest of Christians, the very people who have shaped the history of our faith, have been in your shoes before.
Below are a few Bible verses that have brought me comfort in my season of doubt:
- Hebrews 13:5 “…because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
- Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (These last two verses rank high in my all-time favorites.)
- Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
- Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
How comforting it is to hear that God is with us, even in our times of doubt. Even if we’ve given up on God, he hasn’t, and won’t ever, let go of us.
P.S. I highly recommend the devotional mentioned earlier if you are going through any sort of storm in your life right now and are looking for a book to walk you through it. The author was inspired to write this by her multiple miscarriages, but it really could apply to anyone facing a trying time in their life. (Unbeaten by Lindsey Bell – you can click here or below to order from Amazon!)
(Originally written on December 1, 2017)