Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Doubt your doubts, Christian. . .

The truth is that Satan seldom attacks us on our convictions (unless they are so in conflict with God’s Word and will that he works to encourage them).  Instead, Satan finds weak spots in us and the biggest cracks in every Christian are his or her doubts.  We are constantly led into trouble by taking our doubts more seriously than God’s promises and by listening more to those doubts than His Word.  We are always in touch with our feelings, especially feelings of uncertainty, fear, and worry and these fed into our doubts creating conflicts in our faith where they do not need to be.

Our prayers are long lists of requests for God to answer the physical ills, financial needs, worldly conflicts, and yearning desires within us.  We know what we want and what we expect from God only too well.  What we do not know well are God’s promises.  We do not know well what God has said He will always do and what we need never fear.  So the end result of this is that even active prayer lives can feed our doubts when that active life of prayer forgets to pray the promises of God along with our needs.

Doubt is a constant complaint of those who seek pastoral counsel.  We doubt ourselves, we doubt others, we doubt the people nearest and dearest to us, we doubt the strangers we meed, we doubt the things we have been taught and we doubt the people who taught us these things.  We are so fully aware of our doubts that anxiety has become a crippling crisis even among Christians.  Note what I am not saying.  I am not saying to simply ignore your doubts but we should not accept them at face value either.  Doubt the doubts and do not let them gain advantage over you. We have confidence in Christ – not because our lives are insulated from challenge, change, upset, or trouble but because we KNOW HOW IT ALL ENDS.  It ends in the resurrection of the body, the gift of everlasting life, and a joy unimaginable now.  We cling to this hope not with some tenuous thread of attachment but by the obedient life and life-giving death of Christ.  Our faith is not in a what if but in the because of what God has done to save us.  The Spirit is working in us right now that which is well-pleasing in His sight – especially so that this faith may live and grow in us and overcome our doubts and fears.

To do this means we need to be at least as familiar with God’s Word and promises as we are the doubts, worries, and fears that accompany this mortal life.  Being in God’s Word is not a luxury for those who have the time or the interest, it is the life-blood of our living and active faith.  Being in the Divine Service is not a favor to the pastor or to God but it is the way our faith is sustained amid doubts and confirmed amid challenge.  If you want to be stronger in faith, pay less attention to your doubts and more to God's Word and promises, less time on your own and more time together with the rest of God's people in His House, around His Word and Table.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

So true. I have found that my years as a Baptist only increased my doubts, and I was faithful in attendance and activity. The years I have now spent as a Lutheran are confirming that attendance on Word and Sacrament does not increase doubt, but assuages it. The sermon always includes the Gospel; Christ’s death and covering of my sins with His righteousness. The Sacrament is not an empty symbol devoid of anything but guilt and doubt about my worthiness. It is instead a gift for which I am certainly not worthy, but am receiving to give life and strength. It gives me Christ Himself, and His worthiness, resulting in salvation.