By Jim Allen
A young girl wrote to Got Questions saying she loved Jesus but sometimes doubted He was real. She had no peace, felt no protection, and didn't see a future. She (I will name Mary) went on to say, "The worry and fear over whether or not God will forgive me, if He is real, is stressing me out so bad I can hardly eat or sleep and sometimes throw up after trying to eat."
After gulping and searching for the right words, I responded:
I am encouraged to hear you love Jesus and want him to be real to you. Even those with great faith struggle on occasion. Every believer will at times doubt the reality of God. To doubt does not mean you are lost. It means you are human and imperfect and maturing. I know how you feel because doubt is a scary thing. I've been there. We've all been there and I suspect not for the last time.
Many believers are well acquainted with your struggle. You are in good company. Doubt is the first step, and worry and fear are the second and third steps on the pathway to anxiety. A pathway once envisioned straight and narrow becomes curved and wide.
Doubt is that pesky little thing in life we need to destroy. It's like a cockroach that crawls around in darkness and scatters when you turn on the light. I've lived through those awful moments of worry and fear and like you didn't know what to believe, wrongly thinking God was done with me. But rest assured, God is at work in this process and will not let you stay troubled for long (John 16:13).
Over the years, I have learned we really do need to go through these "trials of testing" to build our muscles of faith. As part of the answer to your question, allow me to share a true story (I've shared before with Blogos readers) about a butterfly.
The butterfly larva inside its cocoon is wrapped tightly and unable to move. A believer can sometimes feel the same way, wrapped tightly by the threads of worry and fear. In order for the butter fly to emerge from its cocoon, it must grow and struggle to break free from its outer wrapping. This takes time.
According to biologists, the struggle put forth by the butterfly is necessary to strengthen the flight muscles. Similarly, the struggle put forth by every believer (through the indwelling power of the Spirit) is necessary to develop and strengthen the spiritual muscles of faith.
I read about a biologist who thought he could help a struggling butterfly by opening its cocoon. After observing the butterfly emerge, the scientist discovered he had inadvertently crippled the small creature. The wings of the butterfly were deformed and the fragile creature unable to fly.
After some research, the biologist learned that during the "struggling phase" the circulatory system carries essential nutrients to the developing wings as they flex (struggle) against the wrapping of the cocoon. Whenever the struggling phase is disrupted (or made easy), the wings develop abnormally or not at all.
During the "struggling phase" for the believer, the Spirit supplies essential nutrients of transformation to the developing "wings of faith" as they flex (struggle) against doubt leading to worry and fear. What you are going through right now is not uncommon, although at times hard and even scary. Psalm 23 is a picture of the believer's journey by faith.
Growing in faith is a struggle and also a journey, all very necessary for developing wings of faith (Philippians 2:13).
The Bible says, "For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). If we don't know what the Bible says then we will lack confidence and the dreaded cockroach of doubt will slip under the doorway of our life. Worry and fear is the outcome.
What does the Bible say about your present situation? "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6). One article about faith on Got Questions quotes Jesus as saying:
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Jesus meant that once He ascended to heaven, He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would live within believers from then on, enabling us to believe that which we do not see with our eyes.In closing, I assured Mary that being a Christian can sometimes be hard but necessary. Enduring a trial and gaining the victory is always trying and why prayer and faith in God are essential (Hebrews 10:36). I believe she now knows God's plan for her is peace, protection, and a future with hope; and, that she can possess wings of faith by abiding in Him (Philippians 4:7). Shalom!
Although we have the Spirit within us, we can still experience doubt. This, however, does not affect our eternal standing with God. True saving faith always perseveres to the end just as Thomas's did, and just as Peter's did after he had a monumental moment of weakness by denying the very Lord he loved and believed in (Matthew 26:69-75).
This is because, "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). Jesus is "the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Faith is the gift of God to His children (Ephesians 2:8-9), and He will mature and perfect it until He returns.
The above response back to Mary was slightly modified to fit the narrative for this article.
Image Credit: Greg Younger; "IMG...rockies"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | God-Father
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