It’s tempting to think that many of us will reach a point in our lives where we’ll be forced to question all that we believe, and then after this struggle we’ll never doubt again. The truth, however, is that all of us test our beliefs every day. Every time you make a decision about how to respond to someone who is rude to you, your beliefs are front and center. Every time you feel that ache in your body, a reminder of the emergency surgery you’re still paying for two years later, you wonder if you’ll recover, not just physically but financially as well.
When your car breaks down on the same day that your spouse overdraws your checking account, you face a dilemma about how you’ll respond — and more important, about what the basis for your response will be. When you’re reading a news app and scan the “word bites” about impending military action against yet another aggressive country, about the latest victim of a serial killer, or about the death toll in a train accident, you’re forced to confront your own beliefs — about human nature, about life, and about God.
The more I’ve lived life and the more I’ve sought to know and understand God, the more I’m certain that doubts are essential to our maturity as believers.
If we want a stronger faith, then we might be wise to allow our doubts to stand as we work through them instead of trying to chop them out of the way.
Judging from what I see in Scripture, I’m convinced that God honors those seekers who sincerely look for the truth, just like that boy’s father who wanted to believe so badly that he asked God to help him overcome his unbelief (Mark 9:21–24). Maybe you can relate. You are like so many others who want to believe but feel like life has gotten in the way.
More than a third of the Psalms are prayers or songs of people in pain. These inspired poems often articulate our pain for us when we can’t find the words.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?..
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes. — Psalm 6:2-3, Psalm 6:6-7
Can you relate to David’s pain? He’s exhausted. Worn out. Depressed. And alone. He has cried so many tears, he can’t cry any more. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in God; he absolutely does. He is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). David simply can’t understand why the God who has the power to change his circumstances, the one who elevated him from a simple shepherd boy to the king of a nation, won’t do it.
The authors of Job, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Jeremiah all express confusion, doubt, and the pain of unbearable suffering endured by faithful believers. Even Jesus questioned His Father’s will in the garden of Gethsemane as He wrestled with accepting what He would have to suffer on the cross. And then, on the cross, He cried out in agony,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? — Matthew 27:46
Maybe in some strange way, God allows us to doubt Him sometimes. Maybe He knows that’s one of the ways for our faith to grow stronger. One of the best ways.
I understand that’s a controversial statement, and you may disagree. But what brought me to that place was my own understanding of the Bible. In addition to the passages of Scripture I’ve just mentioned, there’s one more passage that gives us permission to question God, if we’re willing to listen to Him in return.
More than 2,600 years ago, Habakkuk asked many of the same questions people all over the world are still asking today. And in His grace, God relieved some of Habakkuk’s anguish, even as He left other questions unanswered. But on the other side of his doubts, Habakkuk grew into a person with a richer faith, a faith that may not have developed as fully had he not struggled through his doubts.
Think about it. If you understood everything completely and fully, you wouldn’t need faith, would you? But without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Why? Because faith and trust must emerge from love, not from a business relationship, a transaction, or some situation in which we have no choice.
Are you willing to ask honest questions? To wrestle?
And more important, are you willing to listen for God’s answer?
Excerpted with permission from Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel, copyright Craig Groeschel.
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If you’re in a swirl of doubt right now, don’t let it guilt you. Just turn your questions to Jesus. He doesn’t mind your lack of omniscience! He wants your questions if you’re ready to listen. Are you? Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily