Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Battling Doubt

Who hasn't experienced doubt at one time or several? Most of us doubt the Lord's promises, the Lord's goodness, the Lord's faithfulness, or even the Lord's existence in small ways every single day.

Here's an edited version of something I wrote in the wee hours of the morning on how to battle doubt in a practical way.

1. Concentrate on the historical fact of the cross.

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
-- John 20:27

Press into Jesus. Read the Gospel accounts of the Passion. Read scholarly works about the cross. Reflect intellectually and devotionally on what the man Jesus of Nazareth did and why he did it.

2. Do not seek refuge or advice with those who would shame you for doubting as if they never did.

Be merciful to those who doubt.
-- Jude 1:22

Do not worry that doubt is sin, but view it as a wavering you wish not to have. In other words, acknowledge it is not desirable and refuse to feel victimized by it. Acknowledging that you do not wish to doubt is a big first step in humbling yourself before the gospel.

3. Pray. Or, more specifically, hurl yourself at God.

“I believe; help my unbelief!”
-- Mark 9:24

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
-- Luke 17:5

Philip Yancey once called this sort of thing "Acting as if." You may doubt God is there or doubt his love for you, but as a combative measure against the discomfort of doubt, push back, and act as if he is there and that he does love you. Throw yourself at him. Cry out to him honestly and humbly.
If you approach the throne boldly, you will find grace there for your time of need.

4. Re-focus your doubts toward your own failings and inability. Doubt yourself, in other words.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
-- 1 Corinthians 1:25

This is counter-intuitive to some, and it sounds like bad advice in this age of “Believe in yourself” and self-help and the therapeutic gospel of human potential, but we will not believe God more fully until we despair of ourselves more fully.

In this sense, the counter-attack is not to “stop doubting God” – telling someone awash in doubt to simply “stop doubting” is like telling a drowning man to thrash harder – but to start doubting yourself. It is telling a drowning man to stop thrashing, to doubt his own ability to thrash his way into safety. And in fact, when a drowning man relaxes and stops “fighting,” giving up trust in his ability to save himself, his rescuer is better able to swim him to safety.

If you think God can’t be trusted, think about yourself. How together are you? How well do YOU have it figured out? How in control are you? How are your plans coming together for a great life? How is “following your heart,” which is deceitful above al things, working out for you?

If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize our utter dependence and feebleness. And when we doubt ourselves, we are ready to trust God.

He must become greater; I must become less.
-- John 3:30

5. Read your Bible. More specifically, meditate on Scriptural promises related to your area of doubt.

“Promise books” found in the gift section of most Christian bookstores and even big discount stores like Wal-Mart can be helpful in this regard. Or do a key word search in a concordance or an online Bible. Read God’s promises to you in your areas of doubt.

Your doubt will wither and fade, but the word of the Lord lasts forever.

Remember that God is bigger than your doubt, that your "disagreement" with your doubt is an indication you are known by him. Remember that Christ's perfect work even covers our wavering faith. You only need a mustard seed.


nhe said...

wow, that's good stuff - #1 is of course, well, #1......."If the Resurrection did not happen, our faith is in vain"......not "if the creation period wasn't a literal seven days, our faith is in vain"......the historicity of the resurrection event is pretty rock solid - AND, it certainly validates the historicity of other supernatural Biblical events........

Bill said...

This is brilliant.

Jared said...

Thanks, guys.

Reformed Renegade said...

Outstanding! Thanks.

Paul said...

I am going through the most intense period of doubt right now and I truly needed this. I will be printing it out and tucking it in my Bible. Thank you.

Jared said...

Paul, just prayed for you and will again.

I'm blessed to be of encouragement, brother.

Chanda said...

once again, very good stuff, jared. I love point 4 especially -- now THAT is practical, applicable advice!

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled upon this via good old Google. Really helpful comments! Thank you. Dealing with heavy health issues...it is easy to doubt. This helps!

Adam said...

I've been struggling witth intense doubt lately and this is a help. The world is filled with nonbelievers with strong arguments against the existence of God that aren't always easy to disprove. I've tried praying, although not as much as I should, and its difficult to pray to a God your mind is tellinh you isn't there. But I believe in my God and his awesome power. I don't know why I'm being put through this trial, and have been for the last year, but I know it serves a purpose and God will see me through it. I ask for prayer. God bless.

Anonymous said...

This Gave me chills and helped alot. GOD BLESS YOU FOR THIS!


Anonymous said...

I've been told some very specific things from God in dreams and through the Holy Spirit, that they were to come to pass. They were completely unforeseeable, and I had no influence over them. They did come to pass, and God promised me before then that the rest of this that I saw in the dream and that He told me would happen WILL happen. But, the other day, I read something on the internet about delusions, and I started to question that maybe I'm not hearing from God, maybe it's all just a fluke (Even though the prediction told me the very random and abnormal occupation/job of someone I didn't even know existed at the time), and maybe I'm crazy. Am I just doubting, or am I delusional?

May the peace of Jesus be with you all!

- "Chibi"