CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
By Christy Krenek
Nearly every Christian struggles with doubt in God and His promises at some point, but we're not alone — the Bible presents several instances of those who experienced moments of doubt:
• The Lord told Abraham that Sarah would give birth to a son within the following year. Because of the couple's advanced age, Sarah laughs as she doubts the Lord's promise (Genesis 18:11–15).
• When Moses pleads with Pharaoh to free the Israelites, the slaves are forced to make bricks without straw (Exodus 5:6-8). God had already promised Moses that He would "bring you [Israelites] up out of your misery in Egypt...to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:17). Yet, when faced with opposition, Moses appears doubtful, even questioning God's purposes in sending him to Egypt. "Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all" (Exodus 5:23).
• When Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, he climbs out of the boat and begins walking on the water towards the Lord. But as Peter takes his eyes off Jesus, the disciple begins to sink. Jesus reaches out his hand to Peter and asks, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31).
• On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to two disciples who fail to recognize the resurrected Christ. The frightened men believed Him to be a ghostly apparition. Jesus asks, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?" (Luke 24:38).
• After His resurrection, Jesus appears to all the disciples, with the exception of Thomas. Thomas is skeptical and demands physical proof of the Risen Savior. One week later, Jesus appears among the disciples again. Jesus instructs a skeptical Thomas to, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).
In each of these cases, the Lord responds to these moments of doubt with graciousness and faithfulness (Genesis 21:1-2), power and deliverance (Exodus 14:29-31), compassion and encouragement (Matthew 16:13-18), as well as revelation and affirmation (Luke 24:30-32; John 20:29-31).
We've all experienced times of doubt which frequently come from either attempting to force God into our timetable or restrict God to the boundaries of human logic. When will difficult circumstances change? How can the impossible happen? God understands our human nature...Jesus put on human flesh so that He fully understood our weaknesses.
It is only through Jesus Christ that our faith can be made perfect (Hebrews 12:2-3). We may sometimes feel that our prayers are fragile and feeble. Jesus reminds us that with even a small amount of faith, a prayer can accomplish remarkable things. He asks for faith the size of a mustard seed (Luke 17:6). Talk to Jesus and tell Him when you are struggling with doubt. Ask the Lord to help you to trust Him (Mark 9:24).
Prayers to God should be intimate and tender conversations with our Heavenly Father. While Jesus related to God using the Aramaic abba (an intimate term for "father"), this intimacy never diminished the sense of God's holiness. Prayer is cooperation between God and the believer in that our words are presented to God, the Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, through the inspiration of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It all begins with believing God's promises: "To all who received him [Jesus Christ] he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). God promised His grace (unconditional love) that saved us: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). If we stumble by doubting, God promises to forgive us when we confess. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins" (1 John 1:9).
God never ignores or forgets our prayers. The only thing that God ever forgets is our confessed sins (Hebrews 8:12). God does not forget His promises, especially concerning forgiveness and prayers (Matthew 21:22; 1 John 3:22). Every prayer counts with God — prayers are eternal. "The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God's people, went up before God from the angel's hand" (Revelation 8:4). There are those who have continually prayed for decades for salvation or healing for a loved one, yet still may have moments of discouragement or impatience. God's Word tells us that we should "pray continually and in all occasions" (I Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18).
Some ways that we can be sure that our prayers are effective, include:
• Praying according to God's will (1 John 5:14–15).
• Praying with faith (Mark 11:24).
• Praying with obedience (1 Peter 3:12).
• Praying with forgiveness (Matthew 6:14–15).
• Praying with humility (James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:5)
God always answers prayer so that it reflects His own character. God is near to us in every moment of our lives. This means that all realms are open to prayer: distress (Psalm 18:6), sickness (Psalm 30:2), need for guidance (Psalm 119:18), bewilderment at God's ways (Psalm 22:1), or even the empty feeling of being distant from Him (Psalm 13:1).
Prayer is a key element of the divine-human relationship that marks the children of God. It is grounded in divine love and human need — God's all-abiding sufficiency. While asking for help is a primary reason for prayer in the Bible, prayer provides nurturing and quiet communion with our Heavenly Father.
Additional Resource: What does the Bible say about doubt?
Image Credit: mikegi; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Hardships
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