8 Jan 2014

DOUBT - the good, the bad, the ugly

This is meant for all of us who struggle with doubts. About God. About where our life is headed, who is really in-charge, whether we are really making a difference...

Doubts are here to stay because we have a mind that loves connections. Our brain is made of millions of tiny neurons (hence neurotic) and they love to reach across and go zap!
Doubts are here to stay because we love closure and hence a sense of completion or control - but so much of life goes on and on. Our faith is jumpy at times, our work issues keep coming, our children never 'finally grow up', our finances are never enough (hmmmm..why)...
Doubts are here to stay because we cannot see, touch and struggle to hear God (is it really Him?).

In fact, today, i got this download about doubts and i so here it is. Doubts come from 3 places and thus they can be good, bad, or ugly.

Distant Doubts
are the bad doubts that arise because we have some unfinished business within our hearts. These are the doubts that trip us, stall us and slow us. We wonder if we are on the right track. We get nervous, agitated, often we may blame others.

John the Baptist when he was in prison had a moment of such doubts. He knew he was going to die. But he also knew his life was about preparing the people to meet the Saviour. He would only have succeeded if the Saviour had come. Jesus was his cousin. Could he really be the One?
So from prison, he sends word to Jesus, "are you the one?".
John was wise to voice his doubt. Jesus gave him the answer: the evidence is everywhere John, you don't have to doubt!

Martha had doubts too about Jesus. Is he balanced and does he really care? Her agenda for hospitality was so very important to her; but from her words, i feels like she has not yet embraced it as a gift. It was more the 'right thing to do'. No wonder, she got fed up with her sister who sat around not helping her out!
Martha voiced her doubt with no small tinge of frustration. Her famous line was actually an accusation, "Don't you care Jesus that Mary has left all the work to me?"  Most of us have said this before! We ask God why he seems not to notice our challenges. At heart we have not accepted that they are a part of God's plan for our lives. We want them 'zapped' and fixed -our way -and soon please.

Both John and Martha could have lost faith, given up, wallowed in the mire of doubt. Thankfully, they lifted their doubts to God and received their answers and were set right.

Denomic Doubts
are direct lies and ideas planted into our hearts and minds by our enemy.  They typically lead to a unhealthy self-focus with a sense of dread, condemnation and fear. It can be an accusation that makes us run away from God because we doubt we will be accepted. It can be rabbit trails of distraction from simple faith that come masked as questions.

These doubts tend to make us grow cold, insensitive to truth and entrenched in a posture of faithlessness. Often it comes with the need to have human approval.

The Pharisees were unaware that they had been letting these doubts of God enter their hearts for years. In their bid to provide spiritual leadership, they had become cold, calculative and even heartless.

As i think about it, i empathize somewhat with them. God's silence over the years cannot be an easy thing. It is not easy to keep faith and provide leadership when your people - God's chosen - are the world's frozen; trampled by the Romans.

They needed to know a deeper dependence upon God but because their heart's inclination was to grasp power and influence and prosper on the backs of the people; they ended up coming under the rule of the enemy. Jesus revealed their true state when he says they serve their father the devil.

But - there are surprises. Nicodemus was one of these leaders. But he stands apart from them for he did not let his doubts sink such deep roots because he had a desire for truth. We may tease him for his clandestine night-time visit to Jesus, but at least he took his questions to God; and of course, he received his answers {not without some serious soul search on his part!}

Divinely grace-d doubts
happen when we take our questions to God. Eventually, we realise like Job that it is not God who accounts to us; but the other way around. God holds us and begins to ask us deeper questions. He helps us sort through the labyrinth of worry, anxiety, fear, contradictions. He pegs our thoughts down with His Word and we see a tent spread unfold and take shape that becomes a shelter for us and others in the storm.
God wants to strengthen our faith and convictions. God brings us to a place of worship and surrender. God renews our faith.

Don't be afraid of those doubts and questions. They will come. But take them to God. Check them carefully to see where they have come from. Reject the lies. (Did God really say..?) by getting familiar with the truth (God's promises and principles). Spend much time journaling and talking with God. And - listen, learn to listen. The muddied water will settle in time and you will see what you need to. Then get up and follow in faith!

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