Over the course of the last year, I have had a hard time trying to figure out what God’s plan for me is. Honestly, it’s been disheartening. Because the more I’ve tried to hear God’s input on this topic, the silence has only grown more deafening.
It’s frustrating. I have started to wonder why God doesn’t seem to care. In my head, I know God cares. But in my heart, I feel like David, when he said “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)
Or again when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:1-2)
Like Job, who said “Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:23)
I used to push away doubts about whether God sees, whether he cares. Now, I’m embracing them. Not because I believe God is unseeing or uncaring, but because I believe it is part of the divine plan, that we are to wrestle with doubt…to struggle with it.
Jesus himself in the garden of Gethsemane is begging God to give him a way out of the impending events. On the cross itself, he echos the words David sang about being forsaken of God. (See Matthew 26-27)
Why do we believe doubt is faithlessness?
I understand that we can point to scriptures that say things like “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:6)
And “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
With these scriptures, we make Jesus into an angry, scowling savior who can’t stand anyone who he so much as catches a whiff of doubt coming from. When Peter walks on water and then begins to sink, maybe Jesus is actually smiling when he says ”You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) After all, Peter had just WALKED ON WATER. When’s the last time you did that?
Maybe after calming the storm on the lake, when he says to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40), Jesus isn’t saying that faith and doubt are unable to co-exist. Maybe he’s saying to have faithdespite your doubt and fear. In addition to it.
One of my personal heroes in the bible is the man who came to Jesus and asked him to cast a demon out of his son. The man asked Jesus to help “if he could”. Jesus responds by putting this back to the man: “If you can?…Everything is possible for him who believes.”
The man’s response? “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
This guy clearly doubts. Anybody can see that. He’s grasping at any straws he can to help his son. But Jesus sees that along with doubt, he also is determined to believe. To have faith that his son can be made well. Jesus then makes his son well.
I know God is good. I know he cares. I know he has a plan for me. But sometimes I doubt it. Sometimes I ask God to help me ‘if he can’.
Rather than try to hide my doubt from him, I try to be honest. I don’t keep it locked in some dark closet that nobody can ever know about, pretending it doesn’t exist. I let it out. Because I do believe, and I need help with my unbelief.