“If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith grows stronger still. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more deeply.” Os Guinness
A growing faith is a very desirable thing.
There have been so many times in my life when I fell short in the faith department. I did not have enough faith. Doubt took over and I had no foundation to support me in times of despair.
In the previous post “The Value of Doubt” I discussed that doubt can cause us to turn our back on God entirely [I have done that]. I discussed that fear of doubt can cause us to adopt a faith complete with blinders [intractable faith] and I discussed the doubter that faces doubt head on.
I have had my doubtful moments and yet I know I am a Christian. I would fall into the third category. I admit my doubts. I face them. I also believe the doubts that I have don’t disqualify me from being a Christian but they may disqualify me in the minds of others. Some Christians feel they must have “perfect” faith or they can’t be believers at all.
I am a person who accepts process. I always see myself as moving on to a better faith, a faith that has fewer doubts.
I’m not at the “perfect” faith stage yet.
But along the way I am gaining something else–trust.
Trust is a necessary element in our relationship with God. Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. For us to have trust, we have to put ourselves in a vulnerable position; in relationships with humans, it may mean that we share something special with someone else and they are true to us by not sharing that information with others. It may be that we have a friend’s back when they are being criticized by others. You defend your friend in spite of the unpopularity of that position in the criticizing context. Maybe you say you will help your friend and when they call on you for that help, you are there immediately. There is no hesitation in the offer of aid. When a friend is hurting, you hurt alongside them. Their pains affect you too.
It is a process of discovery with human relationships. For a person to become a trusted friend it takes time.
For me, it is also a process of discovery with God.
As I have become a believer, I have seen God deliver me from tough situations time after time. I have common denominators in these situations. I have been overwhelmed, powerless and afraid. I have no clue what to do. I need to let God take over and yet I struggle with that because it necessitates that I admit I have lost control.
But that is what has happened…I have lost control.
That’s when He steps in.
From my admission of vulnerability comes the power of God. He has helped me overcome my fear over and over again. He gives me the wisdom to understand. He allows me to have the strength to continue on, even when everything else is telling me to stop.
Where does all this come from?
It begins with the doubts that I have. They put me in the position to trust. Trusting helps me to quit struggling. Jesus was clear that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). To trust, I must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to do what I have to do. The metaphor of the vine and branches in John 15 is very appropriate. Christ is the vine; we are the branches. “Everything branches need to bring forth fruit comes from the vine—water, nutrients, the genetic material of life itself—while nothing is provided by the branches. The branches are simply something to hang the fruit on. The same is true of the Christian life. We are a conduit through which Christ displays His (not our) fruit.”*
The main point is this; for us to do what we need to do in life, we have to learn to trust God. We have to learn to depend on God. We have to learn to “let go and let God”.
That’s why it is so good to be honest about doubts. I believe if you have them it is ok. God extends His grace to doubters. When will doubt begin to go away?
When we learn to trust.
*from the “Got questions?org website”