Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Doubts and Questions

How many days in a row can you trust God?

For me, the answer is "almost one."

I hope you're laughing, at least a little bit, but it's the truth, right? It's not just me. On any given day, whether things are going well or things are going terribly, I have questions. I have nagging doubts that creep up every now and then. That's the downside of living in the flesh. On the days when life doesn't seem so good, it's hard to fathom how God is working these things together (Romans 8:28). On the days when life is bliss, it's hard to imagine how I could not mess this up. (Which is a doubt in myself, but also a doubt in God because it means, for that moment, I have forgotten that He made me for this.)

This may surprise people. For the people in my life who know me well, I seem like a rock of faith. I am, and I'll admit this, one of the most optimistic people I know. I just don't believe on giving up on anything, or anyone. I always hold out hope for tomorrow even on days that seem darker than days past. This is the truth that I show the world, and it is honest. But the other honest truth is that it's not so seamless as it seems.

You see, I trust God consistently, not constantly. Faith is the overarching narrative of my life; doubt is a minor character. And I think it's beautiful that way.

Moments of doubt bring our faith into focus. They remind us what we're looking at, and with what eyes we see. They give us a chance to shake our heads, to blink, to break our stare. To remember what it's like to see God. 

That's important. A faith that is untested is no faith at all, and these moments of doubt or these nagging questions give us the chance to remember what faith is and why we believe. When God is a constant presence in your life (He is), when you get comfortable with His presence (we do), it's easy to stop looking for Him because we just trust He's going to be there. When we stop looking for Him, we stop seeing Him. When we stop seeing Him, we see more of ourselves. When we see more of ourselves, we become our own god, or at least some version of it, and then we wake up one day and wonder what happened to our faith. Faith that is the substance of things hoped for, things not seen...disappears when we stop looking to see it.

Another of God's beautiful paradoxes.

I write this to you out of the depravity of my own heart. I've had a lot of questions lately, but for the first time in my life, as I look over my questions, I see faith. I see the pattern of trust that I have set up. I see a consistency of belief that is not shaken by doubt. There was a time, not long ago, that any doubt at all would have shaken my faith. Today, I can tell you that my questions strengthen it.

I can't tell you why I believe. I could, but it's all subtext and circumstances and the little whisper of God that only I can hear. The reasons I believe will not be, intimately, the reasons that you believe. And I don't want to do that to you. I don't want you to believe in my God; I want you to believe in the God. But I write this this morning to encourage you:

Questions do not threaten your faith; they strengthen it. Doubts do not negate your belief; they confirm it. Questions and doubts send you searching for the answers your heart has forgotten, and you find them all over again and remember what God is like and you're amazed all over again. You believe all over again. You choose all over again to be God's. It sounds monotonous and tedious, but it's beautiful. I love that I get to choose every day to love God. I love that my faith has enough doubt in it to keep it fresh.

And I love that my doubts do not negate my faith.

Because even in the midst of all my questions, even in my darker days, even in my desperate moments, in those times when I could honestly look you in the eye and tell you I don't believe, when I step back into the big picture, I realize that I do. Consistently, though not constantly, I believe in God. And I trust Him.

Which brings me back to the original question: How many days in a row can you trust God?

For me, the answer is "almost one." And I think that's just about right.

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