What to do with your doubts

Do you ever have doubts?

Doubts about God, perhaps, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. Or maybe your own salvation, or that of someone you love.

Some days you believe without reservation, but other days you struggle.

What do you do on those days?

You may not discuss it, at least not openly, fearing that other Christians will question your faithfulness or doubt your integrity.

If you were a good Christian, Satan whispers, you wouldn’t have doubts. Ever.

Which isn’t even close to the truth.

I love the story of a daddy whose son was possessed by a demon. In desperation he brought the boy to the Lord’s disciples, but they couldn’t help.

Jesus could, of course, and he did, but not before he engaged the man in a short dialogue. Please read and reflect on this story, particularly the conversation between Jesus and the worried father:

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:14-29).

We have no idea what this man’s background was, but I’m encouraged by his honest response to the Lord’s mild rebuke:

I believe; help my unbelief!

That’s something I’ve asked the Lord many times.

On the surface it sounds contradictory, but it’s not.

As one commentator writes, it’s been the “frequent experience of disciples of all times” (J.A. Brooks).

We believe, but that faith is sometimes (often?) tinged by doubt.

We hope, but that hope is sometimes dampened by uncertainty.

If you doubt, it means you’re in the flesh and therefore fallible, a place where we all live, at least for now.

It doesn’t mean you’re a skeptic or an agnostic or that you’re weak.

It means you live on this side of that final day.

Don’t lose heart . . . pray what this boy’s father prayed.

Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and shine his light into the dark corners of doubt.

Do you believe?

Of course you do.

Now ask the Lord to start working on those areas of uncertainty. He still answers those prayers today.

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