Friday, June 22, 2012

Doubts to the Extreme

I recently wrote a post on this topic of doubt. I realized I had enough material to write much more as the Bible seems to be filled with passages about doubt. I am in good company when it comes to this particular emotion. Can you identify?

It's so easy to look at a situation which seems hopeless and project our human limitations onto them. But God does not have these limitations. We try to fix or handle things ourselves--usually without lasting success. We abandon a project or mission that God gave us because we doubt our effectiveness. Or we may even dismiss an opportunity simply because we doubt our own abilities. Remember Moses who was called by God to go speak to Pharaoh? Moses doubted his own ability to speak publicly.

Here are a few Scriptures about doubt:

When doubts filled my mind,  
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. 
~Psalm 94:19

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him (Peter). 
“You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 
~Matthew 14:31

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith
and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. 
You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up 
and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. ~Matthew 21:21

“Why are you frightened?” he asked.  
“Why are your hearts filled with doubt? ~Luke 24:38  

I've been reading in Psalm 78 which was written by Asaph who teaches his people by using examples from their own history. One of the examples he used is the Israelites wandering in the desert after fleeing Egypt. Over and over again the Lord provided for their needs and rescued them with mighty miracles. Even so, the Israelites rebelled against God and doubted He would be there for them. Actually, this was doubt taken to the extreme. (The following passage of Scripture is long, but I just couldn't leave anything out, so hang in there.)

Yet they kept on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved.   
They even spoke against God himself, saying, “God can’t give us food in the wilderness.
Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, 

but he can’t give his people bread and meat.”
When the Lord heard them, he was furious.  

The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob.
    Yes, his anger rose against Israel, 
 for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them. 
 But he commanded the skies to open; he opened the doors of heaven.
He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them bread from heaven.
They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold.
He released the east wind in the heavens and 

guided the south wind by his mighty power.
He rained down meat as thick as dust—birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore!
He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents.
The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved.
But before they satisfied their craving, while the meat was yet in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men.
    He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men.
But in spite of this, the people kept sinning.
    Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him.
So he ended their lives in failure, their years in terror.
~Psalm 78:17-33

This is not a feel-good passage to read. This was a reminder of the path down which doubt can take me. What starts out as a little nugget of doubt in my mind or my heart could easily turn into rebellion. I might doubt that God is doing anything because I can't see any evidence. It would be so much easier to just do it my way and manipulate the situation.

Doubt is actually a stronghold along with worry, fear, unforgiveness, low self-esteem, pride, cynicism, and the list could go on. I like what Priscilla Shirer says about strongholds in her book, Discerning the Voice of God. "These run counter to God's Truth and manifest themselves in our actions. This is an area where the Enemy loves to work! These strongholds are like cancers in our soul." They can lead to physical addictions, unhealthy relationships, and other problems. But God's Truth (the Word) can demolish strongholds.

Not all doubts are bad. But, if doubts are keeping us from fulfilling God's purpose for our lives or we're not trusting God because of it, then we need to counter them with a healthy dose of Scripture. There's a quote from Jesus Calling that I've adopted in recent months...

Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.

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