Friday, April 19, 2013

Those Pesky Doubts

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 
‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”

Matthew 14:31

     I do not believe doubt is sin. It is what we do with doubt that can cause us to either sin or to grow in our faith. A good question to explore is, "Where does our doubt come from?" Maybe we doubt be cause we forget the Christian life is a supernatural life and forget our view from here is limited in comparison to the eternal view God has. It is similar to the difference in looking at a cross-stitched picture from the bottom of the fabric instead of the top. From the bottom it is messy and confusing with lines of thread going in all directions, but from the top it is a beautiful picture. . 
Maybe we doubt because we grew up with negative messages and don’t see ourselves the way that God sees us. When we have a negative view of us, it can cause us to doubt God and His work in our lives.
Maybe we doubt because our circumstances appear not to hold true to what we understand of God, giving Satan the opportunity to whisper his lies into our minds. An example of this could be when God asks us to wait and we struggle because we believe He doesn't care about us. Those “waits” can be extremely long and difficult especially when Satan whispers his lies to us. Those lies may be: “God isn’t listening.” “He doesn’t really love you.” “See, He isn’t trustworthy.”  “God won’t help you.” 
Maybe another cause of doubt is that we have misunderstandings about what the Christian life is about. Sometimes it is because of poor teaching. Sometimes it is because we misunderstand what we read, hear, or assume about His word. An example of this could be that we thought our problems were supposed to end or be solved when we got saved. The truth is that a lot of the time our lives become more difficult and more complicated after salvation.       
Two good questions for us to ask ourselves are: What can we do we do with doubt and how can we move close to God when we experience it? First, we need to take an honest look at our lives and discern if our circumstances might be caused by our own choices. I had a girl ask me how God could allow her to get pregnant. The truth is that He did not cause it, it was a natural consequence of the choices she was making and the truth is that when we are disobedient, God’s discipline may come in the form of a “storm.” We also live in a fallen world and will be hurt by the sin of others, by natural disasters, by illness, and by death. We can choose to either blame God and get angry or we can choose to believe He is good and walk through the trials with Him. When we have been hurt, His love is always deep enough to heal our hurt. 
However, if none of these things apply, we should try to discern what God wants us to learn from our circumstances. When God was leading Israel out of Egypt, He allowed them to face many trials and with each trial God gave them a way out and taught them something about Himself. For example, at the Red Sea, He revealed himself as their protector. When He used the pillar of light and the clouds, He proved Himself to be their Leader and their guide. When He had them wander in the desert He gave manna and kept their clothes and shoes from wearing out, proving Himself to be their provider. When He gave them victory over Jericho, He proved He was sovereign and all powerful. 
In Peter’s case Jesus revealed Himself as the safety Peter needed to go through life’s storms by walking on a stormy sea with him. Most of us, if we are really honest with each other and ourselves, would have to admit we are disciples with a tendency to want to stay in the “boat.” We would be wise to remember our boat is a false sense of safety and that the safest place to be is always holding on to Jesus. We also want to remember as we make ourselves available to God's working in and through us puts us in the position to bring Him glory and the honor that He deserves. To be used by God, we have to get out of the "boats" we have built with our own hands, giving up the false security we have been depending on. 
I have to ask myself, What am I using as a boat and is God calling you to get out of it?" "What is the storm God is calling me to come and face? Is it fear? Is it past hurts? Is it overcoming generational or habitual sin? Is it going on the mission field? Is it serving in church?" Oh, I want to step out of the boat and keep focusing on Jesus, remembering it is only safe in the boat, when Jesus, Himself is there, too. 

Prayer:  Thank you so much for being a God who stretches us to mature our faith and to grow our character to be a reflection of yours. Thank you for this story of Peter.  Father, help us to recognize that the storms in our lives are opportunities to learn something about you and an opportunity to grow in intimacy with you. Help each of us to recognize your voice when you bid us to come out of the boats that we are so familiar and comfortable in. Help us to be like Peter and to step out in faith, boldly going towards you. If we slip, please give us both the courage and the humility to cry out to you, and the faith to know that you will not ever let us drown. Amen

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!