In my last post, I wrote about people who brought immature pictures of God into adult life and then abandoned faith altogether because their ‘god’ didn’t live up to his title. In the last few days, I’ve realized that post isn’t just about them . . . it’s about me. About us. Every Jesus-follower experiences doubt when God doesn’t meet their expectations. Let me walk back through the ‘gods’ but this time, let’s think about us, not them.
- bodyguard god – Every single person wants God to protect them from harm. But the truth? Bad things happen. To Christians and non-Christians. “Rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous.”
- on-demand god – We absolutely want God to answer every prayer by giving us what we think we need. But we know from experience it doesn’t happen.
- boyfriend god – All of us want to feel God’s constant presence. All the time. To hear His voice and feel His love. Truth is, we don’t. Even Mother Teresa had long periods when she felt God was absent.
- guilt god – There’s a ‘good guilt’ and a ‘not-good’ guilt. The good guilt is from God. His Spirit pricks our conscience to motivate us toward repentance. Not-good guilt is from the enemy of God. It’s meant to defeat our spirit, paralyze us in ‘beat-yourself-up mode.’ We need good-guilt God.
- anti-science god – I can’t read anything about evolution, archeology or cosmology without having something go off inside me. “Heresy” says my Bible-soaked mind. But then the Holy Spirit relieves that tension with “It’s ok. I created all things. I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . the beginning and the end. Don’t get all balled up about the how. The why is what matters. It’s about my Glory!”
- gap god – There is a fundamental gap. In everything. No matter how much science explains, no matter how much the Bible explains, there is a mystery that will not be solved in this life.
- cruise-control god – This is another gap we don’t and won’t understand. How much is God involved in the matters of everyday life? When I hear people say, “thanks for your prayers . . . they worked,” something goes off in my spirit. Why do some prayers ‘work’ and others don’t? Does prayer change anything except me? What gets God’s involved and what doesn’t?
- wimpy god – Sometimes our omnipotent God seems powerless against the forces of nature and the evil engulfing our world.
- far away god – God is often silent and seems unresponsive to our prayers. Once, a friend and I decided to enlist 500 people to pray every day for 30 days for someone in intense pain. We ended up with over 1500 people praying. The man’s pain didn’t get better. (Although, this week I learned the man’s pain is significantly better . . . about 5 years after we prayed. Go figure.)
Maybe there’s a little bit of atheist in all us. Maybe we call it doubt. It will wax and wane but it’s never going to be completely extinguished.
So, here’s four ways to deal with doubt . . .
- God is real – The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:20 lays out the first question everyone has to answer. Did the earth and the heavens create themselves? Or was there a Creator? Did man invent God? Or did God invent man?
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
By faith, I choose to believe God is real.
- God loves me – When I had nowhere else to turn, I set aside my doubts, my pride, my ego . . . everything. I prayed, “God, I need you. I need your forgiveness. I want to know you love me.” On September 19th, I’ll celebrate the 34th anniversary of that prayer and for me personally, there’s an undeniable trail of evidence proving He truly loves me.
By faith, I choose to believe God loves me.
- God can be trusted – Because I know He loves me, I trust Him with every outcome. It’s my job to do my best, to love and serve people and to pray . . . to ask Him for whatever I think is needed. But He’s not on trial here. Whatever comes, I can relax, knowing it came through His hand. Did He make it happen? Did he let it happen? I don’t know. I simply know He loves me.
By faith, I choose to trust God.
- There is a life after this one – Jesus proved it with His death, resurrection, and ascension. I don’t know where, I don’t know what it will be like. But I know that justice will ultimately be done, and that I’ll be where Jesus is because I believe in Him and follow Him.
By faith, I choose to believe in eternal life, in heaven and in my place there, earned by Jesus on the Cross and given to me as a free gift because of His amazing grace.
So . . . when I stay grounded in those four basic truths, I can deal with doubt and with the false ‘gods’ the enemy sends to confuse me.
Scripture: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
Mentor Tip: Don’t run from the doubts of your guys. Help them deal with their doubts using Scripture and your experience dealing with your own doubts, both past and present.