Do you feel condemned for your doubts?

FMF: Doubt

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.’

James 1:2-8

Hands up any of you that have sometimes doubted that you will receive what you are also believing for in faith.

Yes, me too!

Double-minded? Maybe.

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21:18-22

If Jesus is suggesting that we can never doubt, then we are all in trouble!

If faith pleases God, then what do we do with our doubt?

Let’s have a little look at Peter in the boat – or rather out of the boat!

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:28-31

Peter spoke out in faith when he saw Jesus on the water;

he got out of the boat onto the water in faith in Jesus’ command to come;

and he actually walked on water!

The other disciples did none of that! Their brains thought ‘He’s a ghost!’ If Jesus or Peter had asked the others to walk on the water, they’d have laughed at the preposterous idea.

And so would I, probably, if I had been using my brain.

Did Jesus tell the others off for doing nothing? Or give up on Peter for doubting? Of course not. Look how powerfully Jesus continued to use all of His disciples during the rest of their lives.

Look how many times Peter messed up and was repeatedly forgiven and reinstated.

And He can continue to use every step of faith that we take.

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is Doubt.

My five minutes are up, but I want to add a few more thoughts to this.

Like with Thomas and Peter, Jesus does not rebuke our doubts and questions, but patiently teaches us and rewards the faith that we do exercise.

We are asked to believe with our hearts, not our brains. Faith is not a logical, scientific step. It is a heart thing. If God asks you to do it, then He has equipped you and you can command the universe to comply with His request.

Faith is trust in Who God is, not in who I am or what our clever little brains can figure out. He does not even want us to be wise in our own proud eyes.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.’

(Proverbs 3:5-8)

Faith is trusting in Him who can.

And God can. I trust this with my heart, not my brain or logic.

But just like the father of the epileptic boy, who in desperation and faith brought his child to be healed by Jesus, to us and to him Jesus replies:

Everything is possible for one who believes.”

And let us, like the boy’s father, reply to Jesus:

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:21-24

All of us have moments when we feel a surge of great faith and other moments, as we step out in that faith, that we question those actions which may suddenly look rash.

Remember that our faith is in God, not in our own ability. It is often very appropriate to doubt our own capacity!

Confess your heart to God however it is, as David does in the Psalms.

Growth in faith is a process, like with all areas of maturity. God never gives us more than we can handle or expects more than our experience has allowed us to build in trust.

Jesus saved Peter from drowning, He healed the epileptic boy, He returned personally to show Thomas his wounds.

He understands and has mercy on us.

He knows where and how are trust has been wounded in the past and He cares.

Jesus meets our doubt with mercy and understanding and we are reminded in Jude’s letter to do the same to ourselves and to others.

Be merciful to those who doubt.’

Jude 22

Peter focuses on the storm and begins to sink (doubts)
Doubting Thomas: “Unless I see…”

Don’t allow your questions and doubts to be misconstrued as ‘disbelief’.

To grow in faith we need to take one step at a time, knowing that Jesus loves our steps of faith and meets our questions with tender wisdom and mercy.

Reflecting Unconditional Love

FMF: While

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’

The teacher in me questions the use of ‘while’ v. ‘whilst’ and I may have misquoted this. However, I don’t want to go into a discussion of grammar, but to look at that amazing truth of our salvation.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is often thinking that when I’m more gracious, more sorted, more healed, more holy, more… then I will be better placed to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom.

My head knows this is not true. My head knows that I can do nothing to earn His love; and nothing I do can make Him love me more, or can make Him love me less, but this profound truth, that

While I was still a sinner, before I knew or wanted to know Jesus, whilst I ignored Him and lived totally selfishly… even then, He loved me enough to die for me – that I might live, abundantly and eternally.

Isn’t that just WOW?

I want to have such patient, unconditional love as that!

I need the love of God to flood my own heart.

I desire to see others as God sees them.

I recently learned a prayer to help me to love those who I find more difficult to love – those who hurt me and irritate…

It places me, a sinner, with the one I struggle and grapple with, the one I am forgiving and trying to love as He loves… the one I am meeting there at that cross, both of us sinners, both of us needing the forgiving, transforming love of God to renew our hearts and minds and reconcile us to each other and to the Father.

If there is someone you are struggling to love and to see as the Father sees, I invite you to pray this Gethsemane prayer and to remember that

while you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you.

Lord, in compassion, identify me with the heart of my offender, with his hurts and wounds. Bring to death in me that which would declare him as sinful and me as righteous. I am not better than him. I am one with him at the foot of the cross. I cry out “Forgive us!” Set us free from the traps of hate. End all one-upmanship. Enable me to identify with the person you created him to be. Restore us, Oh Lord.”

(courtesy of Elijah House)

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is: WHILE

Image reflecting the beauty and glory of the heavens, in the still waters below.