linking with Five Minute Friday at katemotaung.com – write for five minutes on a given prompt, which today is “doubt”
“Doubt is not so much a dividing line that separates people into different camps as it is a razor’s edge that runs through every soul.”– Michael Novak
No matter how strong our faith is, I think we all have moments when we doubt, when life seems to make no sense, when circumstances cause us to question God’s goodness, when we feel alone and confused.
Even John the Baptist had his moments of doubt. In Matthew 11:1-12, he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask him whether he really is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for or whether they should keep looking for someone else.
John knew Jesus was the Messiah. Even inside his mother’s womb he jumped for joy in Jesus’ presence (Luke 1:41), later he pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), he saw the Holy Spirit descend and rest on Jesus at his baptism and heard the Father’s words of affirmation (Matthew 3:16-17). John knew.
But circumstances have caused him to doubt- alone in prison, facing death, he begins to wonder if it is all real, or if he could have been mistaken.
This reassures me- it’s not just me who has these moments. What reassures me even more is Jesus’ response. He doesn’t criticise John for doubting or lacking faith- he simply points out the evidence:
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” (Matthew 11:4-6)
Jesus then goes on to publicly affirm John before all those who are present- saying that he’s a prophet, the one sent to prepare the way for Jesus, greater than anyone who has ever lived. He points out that this is not happening because John is weak, but because since he began preaching the Kingdom of God has been advancing and is now under attack.
Jesus’ answer must have been hard for John to hear though- it’s great to hear stories of Jesus at work, but it’s hard when your prayers seem to go unanswered, when your longed-for miracle is not happening, when God is doing wonderful things in other people’s situations but doesn’t seem to be doing anything in yours.
That’s where I am right now.
After praying for a friend for several years, things only seem to be going from bad to worse. I don’t know why God allows this, I don’t know why he lets it continue, I can’t see what he is doing in this situation. If God cares for her and has power to change it, I can’t understand why he doesn’t do something. I don’t know.
But, like John, I know God. I know he has power to heal, I know he can do miracles, I know he cares, I know he is sovereign, I know I can trust him even when I don’t understand.
The only answer is to hold to that and keep going. And do what John does and take our doubts to Jesus. It’s a safe place to go. He understands and he won’t reject us or condemn us. The fact that we take them to him is in itself an act of faith- it’s acknowledging that he is the one with the answers, the one in whom our hope is placed.
If you’re facing a similar situation today, here’s a song that I’ve been playing on repeat for the last couple of months and which has really helped me:
Keep going. It’s hard…but it’s the only way.