Hope Fights the Doubt

Ever had one of those seasons where doubt gnawed at your soul and kept you from living in abundant joy?doubt-cartoon

Yeah, me, too. In fact…recently.

With a life-changing decision on the line, I followed my usual checklist for making choices:

  • What does God say about this decision – his voice deep in my soul?
  • What does the Bible say about this choice?
  • What do godly friends tell me?
  • What do the circumstances show me?
  • Do I have peace about the decision?

When the majority of those questions agree, then I feel ready to step into the next season of life.

So I spent several days in spiritual contemplation, fasting and prayer then checked my options with my bulleted list. Check. Check. All five checks. With the decision made, I felt such peace – I gulped fresh draughts of air.

Until doubt bombarded my soul with its constant “What if’s?”

What if this is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? What if this really isn’t God’s will for you and you’ve been royally deceived – again? What if this turns into chaos, then what are you going to do, sister?

Some of the old legalism tapes replayed in my psyche – the old stuff that says, “You’d better make the right decision or God will zap you.”

Yes, I know that is a lie, but old tapes rewind, pause and replay no matter how many times we shush them.

And the other legalism tape screams, “Doubt is not faith. Anyone who doubts is not worthy of the kingdom of God.”

I did say legalism is insidious, cruel and based on lies – right?

But doubt is not always a bad thing for it is in seeking the truth that we search for God. Without some form of doubt, we are left to roll around in our self-sufficiency and think we’re always right – no matter what happens.

Doubt rides with us in a roller coaster of belief systems, circumstantial evidence and core values until finally – dizzy from the ups and downs of emotional turmoil, we whisper, “Whatever, Lord. Just make this struggle go away.”

In a recent devotional, Megan Anderson wrote, “Doubt and discontent are natural symptoms of growth; they nudge us away from the pitfalls of apathy and complacency. At the same time, a lack of clear direction can be taxing on our hearts.

Taxing on the heart – yes! That was the feeling I experienced as I replayed my decision and the possible things that might go wrong if I chose unwisely.

Give me a confirmation, God,” I begged. He answered only by reminding me of who he is – my Husband and Maker who takes care of his bride.

Then God reminded me that decisions always have a risk factor. But even if a particular choice isn’t the best path – a mistake is not necessarily a sin.

Take that – you old legalism liar.

A mistake is not necessarily a sin.

So … I’m going forward with the final decision, sometimes feeling joy and sometimes walking through fields of terror – yet determined to trust and see how God will provide.

Ultimately doubt points us to where our faith originates and eventually lands – right smack in the arms of God.

©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of “Sometimes They Forget” and the Reverend G Trilogy 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Doubt Swallows Faith

doubt vs faithA recent Bible study in my lifegroup discussed the issue of doubt versus faith. I decided not to bother with the homework. After all, faith is one of my core values and also one of my spiritual gifts. I really have no problems with doubt.

Then I attended a networking meeting where a financial planner spoke. She provided sobering facts about the economy and our need to be prepared. One of the most chilling stats she quoted was that 70% of Baby Boomers will live in poverty during their retirement years.

As I listened to this bad news, I felt doubt and discouragement creep into my soul. Yes, I’ve tried to be careful and save money. I have my eggs in several financial baskets. Unfortunately, I only have three eggs and they’re about the size of those jelly beans we eat at Easter.

So doubt crept in, replacing all my confident faith thoughts. What will I do if I face a major illness and can’t work? My plan is based on continuing to write and coach and work in ministry until God says, “You’re done. Come home.”

God has always provided for me. He often whispers, “I will take care of you.”

But do I really believe that? Where is my faith?

Every time I visit my mother in assisted living, I remind her how lucky she is. A woman who planned and saved throughout her lifetime, she also bought long-term care insurance when it was affordable. She now lives in a beautiful facility and all her needs are met. She never has to worry about bills again.

I look around her beautiful room with all her comforts and I envy – yes, envy her.

Even with the Alzheimer’s journey she is on, I envy my mother’s cozy existence and wish I could hope for the same.

But where is my faith? Yes, it is important to plan and save and hope for the best. But ultimately, none of us knows what life will hand us nor how long we will live.

Will life be short enough to utilize our careful plans or will it prove to be too long, leaving us in poverty when we cannot work our way out of it?

All I can do is be grateful that Mom is comfortable while I keep working and doing what God tells me to do – keep believing that God will indeed take care of me.

In the end, that’s the best long-term insurance available.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1