1999-10-01 - It's Okay to Doubt
Updated from 97-10-24
Most Christians - even the most devout among us - go through dry periods. Sometimes we actually doubt that God exists. We wonder "what if there really isn't Anyone up there listening to us?" At other times, we believe He exists, but wonder if He really loves us, or perhaps we just feel communication with Him is blocked for a time.
Doubting does not mean you are a "bad Christian." The Psalmists expressed their feelings of distance from God.
(Psa 6:3-4 NNAS) And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O LORD--how long? Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
(Psa 13:1 NNAS) How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
One principle we learn from this is not only is it okay to share our feelings with God - even those we consider "negative," but that He wants us to! He gave us the Psalms as guidelines. He wants to hear our hearts. So ironically, the first thing we should do if we are doubting, is to pray that to God - even something simple like "God, if You are up there, please help me. I want to believe, but I just can't right now." After all, He already knows our thoughts and feelings, so we might as well tell Him! ; ) And He does want to hear them personally from us.
(Psa 62:8 NNAS) Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
This is Scriptural - to ask for His help with our weak faith moments. Remember the plaintive cry of this father whose son had an "unclean spirit."
(Mark 9:24 NNAS) Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
Also, talking to a trusted, seasoned Christian friend or our pastor can help. Sometimes just having someone "in on it" with us makes it easier, and reassurance that we are not crazy or heretical is encouraging.
The good news is that if we pray, talk about our doubts, and continue to read the Bible and worship even when we don't "feel like it," usually the doubts subside. Sometimes we cannot remember an exact moment when the faith returns, but return it will.
Dear Father, please help us when we doubt. Help us to learn from our dry periods in the faith. May those times always be used for Your glory. Please use this devotional to speak to doubting hearts, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.