Trials

The Beauty of Doubt

Doubt 4We fight it. We work very hard at avoiding it. We deny we have it. We feel terrible about it when we do have it. Yet everybody struggles with Doubt. What makes us feel even worse about it is we know Jesus rebuked His disciples when they let their doubt squelch their faith (Luke 9:41). We know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We are told to beware of “an evil heart of unbelief” in departing from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). This is serious stuff. Gee whiz, even “the unbelieving” tops the list of those who end up in the Lake of Fire…even before the murderers, the fornicators and the sorcerers (Revelation 21:8).

There is no way of getting around it. We are saved by faith, we are sanctified by faith, we are filled with the Spirit by faith, we receive healing and deliverance by faith. Faith is so important that Romans 14 ends with the statement; “For whatever is not from faith is sin”.

God chose faith as His way of interacting with us humans without infringing on our freewill. Ever since our forefather Adam willfully chose to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, his bloodline, his offspring has been infected with the sin-virus of an independent inclination and defiance towards God. Today we simply call it pride or self-sufficiency. Therefore through Jesus, God restored the opportunity for us to have relationship with Him through the free-will agency of faith. We have a choice to choose Him and His will for our lives every day, without being forced to comply.

It seems God doesn’t want us to justify ourselves, but to simply choose His way of doing things. Faith is us trusting Him and not our abilities and strength. Faith would be the end of our death-producing independence, thus fixing what Adam messed up in the first place. Even Abraham was counted as righteous by God for simply believing God and trusting His word (Genesis 15:6). Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard may have had this concept in mind when he said;

“And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue, but faith.”

So why do I say there is beauty in Doubt? Because there is an aspect of doubt that is truly wonderful to ponder. It reveals the wisdom of our God. You see, without the possibility of doubt we would be preprogrammed robots. Without doubt we wouldn’t truly have a free will, and if we didn’t really have freewill we wouldn’t be created in the image of God. It is an amazing thing that God actually created billions of people in the same image of Himself. The presence of doubt should remind us we still have a choice in every circumstance. Doubt reminds us we are back in the Garden and have a free will to choose God’s way, our way, or the world’s way.

This presence of Doubt is a reminder of our freedom. However it can be disconcerting at times. Kierkegaard described it well when he said “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Doubt presents us with alternatives to the will of God. Some of those alternatives are difficult to choose from because the choice may cost us a lot.

Let me leave you with some closing thoughts about Doubt.Doubt 3

#1 – Certainty without the possibility of Doubt is not a good thing – Wouldn’t it be great if Adolf Hitler, Charles Mansion or today’s Islamic terrorists had a little doubt about their belief system? Isn’t their certainty a scar on humanity? What about the Pharisees? Their self-assured, self-righteousness ended up snuffing out the life of Jesus…which they still do today. People sometimes forget that the apostles of the Lord sometimes stated the will of God in terms of something that “seemed good” to them and the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:25, 28 and 34). I love the humility in their words.

#2 – Don’t freak out when Doubt comes. If a bird flies and lands on your head that’s not your fault. However if it builds a nest on your head you have entertained your doubts way too long. We need to remind new believers if doubts come against them it’s not because they are failing at Christianity. Doubts enter into everybody’s mind, especially right before an important decision or situation in their life. We aren’t helpless before these doubts.

hitler-2#3 – The presence of Doubt means you are still alive. You are still a freewill moral being with the power to choose. Nobody has preprogrammed you. You are still on the journey of life if you wrestle with doubt. You have options. In fact, it is the very 50-50 decisions we are forced to make; the ones where we aren’t really clear what we are to do; when our intellectual abilities are exhausted, that we must depend on our “gut”, our faith. It is in this crucible of “choices with consequences” that our faith and our inner person, which was created in the image of God comes forth as refined gold.

#4 – Doubt doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, you may have just misplaced it. The story of Jesus and His frightened disciples on the stormy sea (Luke 8:25) caused Jesus to pose an important question to them; “Where is your faith”? Jesus wanted them to think about where they placed their faith. They (like us) probably allowed their fearful circumstances to push their faith down into a corner of their soul. Yet it is still there. Jesus is reminding them (and us) to get our faith out and use it again.

So the next time you are fighting the fight of faith, remember that the presence of doubt doesn’t mean you are a weak person or you are a hopeless cause. The little faith you do have, even if it is the size of a mustard seed, is enough to remove every mountain in your way.

In the end you can also remember… you can doubt your doubt.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith! 1 John 5:4

Also see – “The Beauty of Failure” and “The Beauty of Hell”

Misconceptions About God – God Won’t Let You Go Through More Than You Can Handle

Pic 12One of the first things we learn in God’s School of Ministry is that there are some incorrect suppositions about how God deals with Man. These misconceptions are widely taught as gospel truth in our seminaries and church pulpits. The first misconception that a believer realizes is the falsehood that God will not allow us to go through more than we can handle. Those who continue to espouse such a belief either don’t understand the Scriptures or have never been to Roadkill Seminary.

We often tell young Christians that God won’t put them through more than they can handle to comfort them. In general, from a theological perspective it is appropriate for new believers to understand God will not allow them to be destroyed or vanquished into oblivion by trying times in their life. However it can be terrifying when we are faced with a situation that is presently overwhelming our ability to cope. We can become greatly confused and disoriented because we have been incorrectly taught that these trials and tribulations were never supposed to get this difficult. Besides what makes this belief irrelevant in the first place is that our idea and God’s idea of what is too difficult for us to handle is not the same.

This failure to cope during a trial may cause us to think we are really messed up because we are presently experiencing more than we can handle; yet in our mind we remember being taught this should never happen to a Christian. We falsely think God should’ve come to our rescue by now. “Why don’t the Scriptures work for me?” we think to our self. I believe this misconception adds to the drop-out rate (and sadly, sometimes suicide) for Christians all over the world.

Believers who are experiencing tests and trials that are beyond their ability end up thinking God has abandoned them or they just don’t have what it takes, so they often give up on their walk. The source of this misconception is rooted in a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you except such is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.

What the Bible says here is that no “temptation” will entice us so forcibly, so powerfully that we will have to succumb to it. No one will be able to stand before God on Judgment Day and say to God “I’m sorry Lord, I just had no choice but to sin, he or she was just too beautiful to turn down.” Joseph escaped the temptation of Potipher’s wife by running. God made a way of escape. However trials are different. Joseph couldn’t escape the pit or the prison. There are no escapes from these kinds of trials. Just ask Daniel about the lion’s den and the three Hebrew children who were thrown in the fiery furnace, or the countless martyrs throughout history who didn’t have a way of escape. The Scripture here in First Corinthians is referring to no “temptation” will overwhelm us. It is not referring to a trial or the testing of our faith.

Paul himself said he was burdened by circumstances so great they were beyond measure and above his strength to bear. Contemporary preachers may try to sanitize RKS from the Bible but the apostle’s words are still in black and white in 2 Corinthians 1:8:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we  despaired even of life.

For the Christian who is being prepared for a higher calling, it appears God will allow, and even specifically design, circumstances and trials to break them, to take them beyond their present ability to cope. It’s only when the Lord takes us beyond our breaking point and blows our “circuit breakers” that we truly discover where our life ends and His Spirit begins. This is the beginning of the Spirit-dependent life.

We acknowledge in the eternal sense that our God wouldn’t allow a trial to destroy us. In truth these trials are about us dying to the strength of flesh and discovering His enabling grace. However, there are times when the Lord out necessity allows us to be overwhelmed beyond our ability to bear, so we will discover the reality of His resurrection power. Are you still unconvinced that God would have you go through something you cannot bear? Look at how Jesus Himself fell under the weight of the Roman cross on the way to Golgotha (Matthew 27:32). It was more than Jesus could handle. The Roman soldiers had to get another man to help Him carry it to the finish line. God will also have particular people positioned in our life to help us continue towards our appointment with death/trial … then resurrection.

As we become obedient unto death as Jesus did, the Bible becomes more than a religious book; it becomes the Living Word of Life. Those who don’t hunger for the higher calling and purposes of God or those who have shrunk back from God’s dealings may find this difficult to accept. Understandably there is a naïve sense of security in believing we’ll never have to face more than we can handle. As we stated earlier, many are called but few choose the path of the chosen. Maybe we’ll never be given the opportunity to be tested like we are discussing here. Yes I said opportunity. It is a privilege to suffer for Christ. It is only the grace of God that has allowed anyone to suffer faithfully for the Lord.

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:41

Excerpt from “Roadkill Seminary”

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