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What's Happening When We Begin to Doubt?
When We Begin to Doubt
Believers often battle with doubts. These doubts range from questioning whether we have the ability to live as we ought to questioning whether or not God is real or can be trusted. We should never just brush questions aside, for they will have a bad way of creeping back in and getting in the way of our walk. Rather, when doubts arise, we should use them as opportunities to grow and probe into the fundamentals that will help shore up our faith. Whatever the doubts may be, there are often even deeper issues underlying those questions. We know the danger. Doubts that are not addressed can become destructive of our overall faith. These will turn us into wavering people who are driven and tossed by the wind (Jas. 1:6). Following, then, are some reminders about where our minds might be going off track. When we begin to doubt…
We are not thinking highly enough of God (Eph. 3:20).
Doubt gets to the heart of how we conceive of God. If our faith is not founded on the God who can do far more abundantly beyond anything we can ask or think, then our faith will waver when we are confronted with difficulties that seem too much for us. Doubting usually starts with bringing God down to our level (or below). When we do this, we’ve already lost the battle. A high view of God is critical to strong faith.
We are thinking too highly of human wisdom in contrast to God’s wisdom (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
The world thinks the cross foolish (1 Cor. 1:18ff). When we take our eyes off of God’s wisdom, we will begin to doubt the power of the cross, and we will then be placing more value on human reason and wisdom over God’s. Why is it, though, that those who place everything into the category of human wisdom do not also doubt their own sense of wisdom? We need a wisdom we can trust, and this must be founded on something deeper than what any mere man may think. Faith needs to be in the power of God, not in the wisdom of men.
We are not focusing on the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:58).
Two primary facts about the effects of Jesus' resurrection on our lives: First, we are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:3). Second, when our faith in His resurrection is strong, we can know that our labor is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
If Jesus were not raised from the dead, our faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Since the resurrection is the fact on which we base our hope, and since faith is what underlies our hope (Heb. 11:1), then losing faith in the resurrection will 1) destroy our hope, and 2) make us question all that do as Christians. Herein lies the devastation of doubt. Doubt destroys hope.
This is one reason Paul said the death and resurrection of Jesus is “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The bottom line is this: get the resurrection of Jesus strongly fixed in our minds, and the rest will fall into place. We will know that everything we do for the Lord is worthwhile, and we will live with hope. It is through Jesus that we are introduced, by faith, into God’s grace in which we stand; “and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).
We are more focused on self and personal failures in contrast to the success of the worldly (Psalm 73).
By looking at the world and focusing on worldly fun, pleasure, and success, we may well be setting ourselves up for doubt. The psalmist said he almost stumbled because of it. Instead, we need a greater perspective so that we may “perceive their end” (Psa. 73:17). To do this, we must go to the right source and be renewed in our thinking (cf. Rom. 12:1-2). True success is not defined by the world, but by listening to our Creator, who always knows what is best for us.
We are not looking far enough into the future (Heb. 11:24-26; 2 Cor. 4:18).
This is the “so what” of life. Why do we press on in the face of difficulties? What enabled Moses to endure affliction with God’s people was that he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). Our perspective needs to reach into eternity, “for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). The only One to whom we may go for the eternal is Christ: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
While doubts have the ability to destroy faith, we also have the opportunity to refocus our thinking and thusly strengthen those areas of our faith that have wavered. Don’t brush aside the questions. Deal with them honestly. At the same time, make sure we have put the proper perspective on those matters that are most important.