For When You Feel Doubt
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. R. Descartes
It was Spring of 2016. It's 6:00 am, and I was holding my near two year old in my very pregnant lap in a cold hospital room. She was getting prepped to go into surgery to remove her adenoids and put tubes in her ears.
There is always a lump in your throat when they wheel your child away. I'll never get used to it.
Then all I could think about in that waiting room was, "How in the world are we going to afford this?" We had just been given a much larger than anticipated bill from a procedure I had had a few months prior, a surgery I had to have to remove a dangerously large ovarian cyst while I was only 11 weeks pregnant. And now we were about to get another bill for this surgery, and then another one for the birth of my second little girl.
So much money, up front. What are we going to do, God? Why is all of this happening at once? Can we get a break?
In the months that passed, hospital bills wiped out our hard fought savings. We did not know what to do. No emergency fund. Nothing. It was all gone.
We were angry, stressed, exhausted, and worried.
God, why us? What did we do? What are you doing? This feels unfair.
Where are you, God?
We are drowning...
We began praying hard, believing that He would provide for us. We had no idea how, but we knew he would. It was a hard year in many ways. My new little baby was constantly sick. In and out of doctor's offices. Ear infections in the double digits for her that year. Tubes and adenoids. A seizure that landed her in the hospital for several days.
I was in a tough season at work, unsure of what the next day would bring every night when I went to bed.
I was struggling with taking care of two tinies.
And not to mention, we were almost broke from those medical bills.
We would pray that he would provide.
And then, slowly, we started seeing him provide in really interesting ways.
A friend sent us a large check in the mail because they had felt God wanted them to bless us.
Another check from someone who loves us.
Our boat sold for exactly the amount that we needed to pay for daycare costs.
I got a raise, and a really unexpected bonus.
Beav got a raise, too.
We were able to find a better health insurance that fit our family.
When we thought about it all, and what God was doing... how he was providing... over and over and over again, we were in awe.
This God, He cares about us. We had moments in that year and a half when we really were not always sure about that. We felt forgotten, almost.
But God did not forget. He did not forget us. He did not go back on his promises to give us everything that we needed. He provided everything we needed. And then some.
It is October of 2019, and we are talking over life insurance and investments and retirement funds with our friend and advisor. I fight back tears because only three years ago we had no idea how we would continue to buy groceries, much less think about investments. Three years felt so long, but really, I can see the hand of God on us over and over. I can see how he provides in beautiful, unexpected ways.
The doubt we felt in the darkness was real. So real. We did have some tough questions to ask God. Sometimes I asked them, and sometimes I was too angry to ask. Regardless, God moved on our behalf. And my doubt began turning into faith.
The thought shifted from "Where are you?" to "I see you, God. I see that you are moving."
From "Why us, God?" to "I trust that you are going to use this in big ways, God. Thank you for entrusting us with this hardship."
From "What are you Doing?" to "I trust what you are doing."
My thoughts shifted through prayer. The more I prayed, the more I remembered truths of who God is. He is not the One who abandons me. He is the one who stays, who is there even when I cannot feel him.
Doubt plagues us with questions. So many questions. And the good little Christian kids who sat in Awana classes, children's church, and Sunday school, well, we all learned that doubt = sin.
But if we used our doubt of who God is, what he does, what he does not do, how he feels about us or mankind, to move us to the feet of Jesus, then He can speak truth into those places. When he speaks that truth to us, our thoughts shift from where they are to where they need to be.
Ask God your questions. He will still love you. Ask him why good people suffer. Question child abuse in his presence. Question church hurt. Question trauma and sudden loss. Question poverty and slavery and genocide. Question it. Raise your hand boldly, and ask the question. Ask it all of Him, and then allow Him the space to respond. Don't do all the talking. Open scripture and let it speak into your doubt.
When you pray and ask, consider praying the words of Psalm 77.
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 I sought the Lord in my day of trouble. My hands were continually lifted up all night long; I refused to be comforted. 3 I think of God; I groan; I meditate; my spirit becomes weak.Selah
4 You have kept me from closing my eyes; I am troubled and cannot speak. 5 I consider days of old, years long past. 6 At night I remember my music; I meditate in my heart, and my spirit ponders.
7 “Will the Lord reject forever and never again show favor? 8 Has his faithful love ceased forever? Is his promise at an end for all generations? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah
10 So I say, “I am grieved that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”[a] 11 I will remember the Lord’s works; yes, I will remember your ancient wonders. 12 I will reflect on all you have done and meditate on your actions.
13 God, your way is holy. What god is great like God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you revealed your strength among the peoples. 15 With power you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah
16 The water saw you, God. The water saw you; it trembled. Even the depths shook. 17 The clouds poured down water. The storm clouds thundered; your arrows flashed back and forth. 18 The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind; lightning lit up the world. The earth shook and quaked. 19 Your way went through the sea and your path through the vast water, but your footprints were unseen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
He is the God who sees. He never leaves or forsakes me. He takes care of me. He loves unconditionally, perfectly. He gave his life for me. He promises and fulfills His promises. He forgives me. Every time.
When we remember God, that he is who He says he is in scripture, that he does what he says he will do, well, doubt starts to fade away, and faith takes its place.
Remembering God seems to be the only antidote for doubt.
Tell God out loud like the Psalmist did here, tell him the thoughts and feelings and questions you have. And then ask that He would help you have faith in the midst of your doubt. A faith that does not make sense. A faith that believes even when the circumstances of life are dire. A faith that clings to the Father. Ask him to remind you of the things that he has done, who he is.
And guess what, he will. He will remind you again that he is worth believing in. He is worth it.
Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1, ESV
I confess that sometimes (actually a lot of the time)
I don't see what you are doing in my life.
In the world.
I don't feel your presence.
I don't even feel your kindness.
But then I remember you,
Who you are. What you promise me.
I remember how you have proven yourself to be true
Over and over again in my life.
I remember how you proved yourself to countless people throughout history.
And my doubt starts transitioning into a tiny mustard seed
A faith in a God I cannot see.
A faith in a plan that is for my best and God's glory.
I will ask when I don't understand.
I trust that you will help me understand.
Thank you for being who you are.
In Jesus' Name,
Creative Journaling Prompt
When is the last time you have had serious feelings of doubt and needed to ask God some questions? Reflect on that experience. What were/are your questions?
How has God proven Himself to you?
What is it that helps your doubt transition to faith?
How would you help someone get from A to B if they were struggling with doubt?
Ask God your hard questions. Every one of them. Then give Him space to respond through reading the Bible, His Word to us.