Little faith, BIG Doubts Print E-mail



In the 'Case for Faith,' Lee Stroble tells about a conversation he had with a young man, Lynn Anderson, who was the son of committed Christians who were part of a small, tight-knit church.  Despite these strong roots his doubts started early.


"Even as a kid I asked a lot of questions," he began. "I was always probing on a deeper level, not taking anything at face value. I've never been able to totally shake that." 


"When did you become a Christian?" Stroble asked. "I made a profession of faith at a summer camp when I was 11, but I felt like a hypocrite afterwards. I was supposed to have committed my life to Jesus, but I wasn't even sure there was a Jesus. I felt like a liar."


Stroble asked if doubt was all the guy ever felt.


"Sometimes I would really sense God's presence. I would ride home from school in a snowstorm at twilight singing hymns and feeling I was in God's hands. But a lot of the time, I didn't believe in Him- at least, not like my church friends."

"Were you afraid they would find out?" Lee asked Lynn.


“Absolutely! I was scared they'd think I was bad, or be angry with me, or think my parents were spiritual failures. I was afraid my parents would be disappointed or ashamed."


Can you relate? Are your doubts right there in the front of your mind? Do you feel like a hypocrite, a fake? First, before you read anymore I want you to understand what faith isn't.


“Most people think that doubt is the opposite of faith, but it isn't. The opposite of faith is unbelief, which is the willful refusal to believe or a deliberate decision to disobey God.” - Lee Stroble


Faith doesn't equal feelings-

Lynn Anderson the "church kid" who struggled with doubt shared this about faith and feelings.


"I tend to be emotionally up and down. It took me years to figure out that this doesn't mean my faith is getting weaker or stronger. That's why we have to be careful about our feelings—they can be fickle."


In Galatians 3 Paul was writing to the Galatians who were also struggling with faith. He says to them, "Are you so foolish having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

We so often fall into the trap that if our feelings aren't there, then the faith must not be either.  But Paul was saying Christ saved you and now you think that you are going to finish that work by doing it your way?!  What! No way, Christ started it, He'll finish it.


When I feel like some thing is missing emotionally from my faith life, I go to the Psalms. The Psalms give such a great picture of what normal faith is like! We tend to focus on the upbeat Psalms, but check it out, 60% of them are laments, with people screaming out, "God where are you?" When you find feelings lacking in your faith, tell yourself like the Psalmist did truths about YOUR Father.




Psalm 102:27 "But you are always the same; you will live forever."




Deuteronomy 10:15 "Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and He chose you."




1 Peter 5:7 "Cast your cares upon HIM for He cares for you."




2 Cor. 1:20, "For no matter how many promises God has made they are YES in Christ."




Psalm 52:1, "Power belongs to the LORD."




Luke 12:7, “Do not fear you are MORE VALUABLE than many sparrows.”




Psalm 55:19, "God, who has ruled forever, will hear me."




Psalm 103:3, "Bless the LORD... who pardons all my iniquities."



Psalm 103:3, "Who heals all your diseases."




Cols 1:13, “Who rescues me from the domain of darkness and transfers us to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son."




2 Tim 1:17, “God didn't It -give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.




Psalm 103:4, "Who redeems your life from the pit."





Rev 1:5, "Jesus Him who continually loves us...."


...and the list goes on and on. Instead of focusing on your lack of feelings, focus on his abundance of blessings!



Faith doesn't equal lack of doubt-

Some people think faith equals a lack of doubt, but that's not biblical. One of my favorite Bible verses that I pray over and over again when I am in the darkness of doubt is

"Lord I do believe help my unbelief" (Mark 9:14-27).  I can so connect with that. There is a man coming before Jesus to have his demon-possessed son healed. And Jesus says, "All things are possible to him who believes." So the dad's reply? "I do believe help my unbelief!" 


His belief, his trust, his confident expectation was in Jesus. That was obvious because of all the magicians, sorcerers, or religious people to whom this dad could have brought his son, but he didn’t.  He brought him to Jesus. How do you or I respond when a challenge, a heart break, or a disappointment come at us? We run to Jesus.


 "But if I believe I shouldn't be having doubts or challenges, my faith should be strong enough that it's not affected by bad things."  I totally understand.  I used to think that way too. But if your faith is never challenged how does it grow? James 1:3 says, "Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." If you always feel the sweetness of the presence of God how can you practice faith in Him? If you are never challenged by hard questions and doubts, why would you ever try and learn more, try and satisfy your questions?  Doubts can help you develop a stronger and more realistic faith, if you don't let them beat you down. The next verse in James is our encouraging promise of that very thing.


  “And let endurance (produced from your trial) have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:4.


Lee Stroble, atheist, saved by God's grace, as a new Christian was challenged by a scientist who had been trying to disprove Christian faith. Finally after a few hours of going back and forth Lee told the guy this, "I can't answer all your questions- but for 2,000 years people have been trying to destroy the foundation of Christianity and I don't think you'll be the first to succeed." 


So ask questions if you have doubts, check them out and hold on to this promise, "Seek (and keep seeking) and you WILL find, knock (and keep knocking) and the door WILL be opened, ask (and keep asking) and it will be given” Matthew 7:7.



Faith, act of will or gift of God?

The Bible talks about faith as a precious gift from God. It also talks about choosing or refusing to believe. Yea there's tension in seeing those two sides but this is where it leads me.  I shouldn't get cocky because I have faith and take credit for it like it's something I worked up on my own.


"For by grace you have been saved, through faith not of yourselves, it is a GIFT of God not as a result of works, so that no one can boast" Eph. 2:8-9.


But God never (let me say it again) NEVER EVER withholds that gift from anyone (again let me say it) ANY ONE who wants to believe, so it's not realistic to say "I'd like to believe but God just hasn't given me faith." Let me rephrase what you've just said. "I want to believe but then I'd have to give up partying." "I want to have faith but then I'd have the responsibility faith brings with it." “I can't believe it would mean focusing on someone other than me."


God will never give you the desire to be saved and not give you the faith needed to believe.


So you're struggling but you realize it's ok. You want to defeat doubt? That's awesome.  It means there is faith there alive and fighting.


First I would encourage you to seek out people whom you respect because of their Christian life, whom you look at and say, "They’re awesome! They really seek the Lord, and I want to be like that."


"Just as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another."


"But I don't have that right now." That's probably the case for many of you.  I encourage you then to follow the example of the Psalmist:


“Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is in me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord oh my soul and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases who redeems your life from the pit. Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion" Ps. 103:1-4.


David, instead of focusing on his surroundings and his insecurities, was talking to himself, he was telling himself all that the Lord had done. He was reminding himself how wonderful the Lord was even when things around him where rocky and his faith life was going through some dark doubts.  He focused on God.


So I encourage you, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” Ps 34:8.


I still struggle with doubts, big ones. My faith still comes in waves where it's big and washes over me and every area of my life, then other days it's like it's just barely reaching my toes. But I'm experiencing God more and more. I can even see God in my trials and I see Him building faith on those days where He feels so far away.


It's funny, I know I don't have all the answers about faith, doubts, and Jesus but that doesn't matter to me so much anymore because I'm coming to a point where I taste, I see, and I know, the Lord is good!