Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Unbelieving Belief

The comment:
Where is the line between the natural doubts and then those doubts which lead to sin? How shall I handle these doubts? I feel like a battle is going on in my heart, over all I believe...
If there's one thing I've struggled with my entire life, it's doubt.
I doubt everything.

The earliest trace of doubt I can remember was as a little girl, age 6. My parents would have me say my prayers every night and in addition to praying that no robbers, fire or Indians would come my way (...long story), I'd pray consistently that Jesus would come into my heart. I remember being fearful that He hadn't heard me the night before and so I needed to be extra sure each night.

Ironically enough, my first serious boyfriend dubbed me 'Faith' and the emails we exchanged back and forth (at the age of 15, mind you) were always headed with this affectionate nickname. It may have been given in attempts to spur me on toward faith and never let me forget to have it... honestly, I don't remember. But, I know that faith is not a defining thing about me (ask anyone who knows me well).

My sophomore year of college was especially challenging. While I had always had questions and doubts regarding faith, that spring semester led me down a dangerous road. I didn't get why Jesus dying for the world was such a big deal. It seemed to me that many people would be willing to die so that the entire world might be able to live... in fact, similar things had already been done. My mindset was almost a, 'so what's the big deal, anyway?'

I began to trail down the path of what it might be like if I walked away from my faith. What would it look like if I abandoned Christianity, if I denounced God and lived life any way I wanted to?

I thought about it a lot, and lived out the hypothetical life in my dreams. As much as I could see myself taking this road, I kept coming to this block. No matter how much I tried to convince myself that there was no God, and certainly not one I could give my life to, I still couldn't imagine my life without Him. Even in my lowest moments, I knew that He was the one, true constant in my life that I couldn't deny. It hit me that Jesus would have still gone to that cross, even if it had been just for me.

But I still doubted.
I weaseled my way into another summer as a camp counselor and that's when transformation really started to happen. Transformation because I met a godly man who challenged me that doubt could be good. He pointed me in the direction of Scripture and encouraged me to look at the people, the faithful followers of Christ. Turns out they weren't always so faithful...but it seemed to be in their moments of doubt that God was able to still work, He was able to reveal His glory, His power, His might.

I still doubt. All the time.
I think, to some degree, it's okay. I think it's what you do with the doubt that matters.
Do you let the doubt move you into a place of searching for answers, into a place of begging that the Lord would increase your faith?
OR, does the doubt cause you to halt, does it put you in a place of being unwilling to want to have faith?

I think this is the answer to your question. We're all going to doubt... but when your doubt leads to despair, when it leads you into resisting God and constantly desiring to turn from Him--that's when you need to be wary.

Ultimately, I firmly believe that He doesn't let His children wander forever. I often encourage people to explore their doubts, to seek answers to their questions... to try and imagine what life without God is like. God wouldn't be God if He couldn't handle this. I'd rather you go exploring and finding God for yourself than try to convince you with my words that He is the living God. I believe you will find Him, if you seek Him with all of your heart.

I think your doubt becomes sin when you sit in it, when you dwell there, when you settle for it because you think there's no hope of getting out. I've been here, too-- not so very long ago.

Press on to know Him, even when you doubt.
Press on to know His word--get familiar with those in Scripture who doubted, get familiar with how the Lord drew them out of those places.

Acknowledge your doubt before the Lord.
Guess what?
He's not surprised by it.

I think it's so valuable for us to be honest with Him, to not try to hide things from Him. When we allow ourselves to be honest with Him about our doubts, I think He can more easily meet us where we're at because we're openly letting Him in instead of resisting or denying.

And may our prayer always ultimately be:
Father, I do believe. Help my unbelief! 

'Cause we believe... and we don't... 
And we need Him to change our hearts, because... try as I may... I just can't make myself believe. 

I am sure of what I hope for, though. 

Are you? 

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1 comment:

  1. Debbie. I love that you posted about this! I've honestly been thinking about the balance between belief and unbelief a lot recently, and I've loved reading this post and adding it to my collection of Biblically inspired wisdom.

    Thanks for your perspectives and honesty in all of the posts. Be encouraged...Your words are a gift from the Lord to many. :)