Summary: #5 in a series focused on the foundational biblical truths found in The Peace Prayer of St. Francis: Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.
Doubt and faith. These are huge topics.
Let’s admit right up front that all of us find ourselves in the midst of doubt sometimes. Can you admit that openly? While we are sharing true confessions, let’s also admit that we really don’t completely understand faith sometimes either. We wonder what it really is and how it is supposed to work. Right?
In Matthew, chapter 17 we read where the disciples asked Jesus to “increase their faith.” Do you recall the man who asked Jesus to heal his child “if He could”? Jesus told the man he had to have faith and the man replied “increase my faith.” It appears from these examples that all people share something in common from a regular guy like me all the way up to the Disciples. We constantly have to go to the Lord and ask Him to increase our faith. Doesn’t that make you kind of wonder why faith seems to be so hard to come by for us all? Are we by nature, really that skeptical, or could it be that we don’t fully understand what God had in mind when He put such an emphasis on faith?
Let’s take a look at the flipside of faith. Let’s look at doubt. Doubt is a nasty, nasty part of our nature that goes way beyond being skeptical. Do you realize that doubt is the weapon of choice of Satan? It’s the number one rifle in his arsenal. Take a look at how things went down in the Garden of Eden. What was it that the serpent said to Eve that caused her to take the forbidden fruit and share it with Adam? The serpent said, “Did God really say that you could not eat from any tree in the garden?” All he had to do was place the tiniest fraction of doubt in Eve’s mind to cause the fall of mankind. From this I see that doubt is the equivalent to a nuclear weapon….complete with fallout that destroys slowly after the initial blast. The worst part of it though, is that ALL of us are very susceptible to it. None of us are immune.
You may challenge me on that last statement that none of us are immune, and ask what about the greatest of saints from years past? That’s a fair question. Let’s look at a few. How about Abraham, the father of the Jews? Well, he came to doubt that God would carry out His promise to make his family a mighty nation so numerous that they would be compared to the grains of sand on the beaches. He had no children even as an old man, so what did Abraham do? He tried to help God out by fathering a son with his wife’s maid, Hagar. Her son Ishmael is the father of the Arabic nations. Years later God fulfilled His promise by giving Abraham and his wife Sara a son, Isaac, even though both of them were well beyond the age of producing children. Did God need Abraham’s help? No. Did God do exactly what He promised to do? Yes. Did God fulfill His promise to Abraham, the way Abraham thought he should or as soon as Abraham thought He should? No. And it was due to the fact that God did not fulfill His promises in the time or way Abraham expected Him to that caused doubt to creep in. Abraham forgot the same thing we all are guilty of forgetting. God is sovereign. He operates according to His plan and according to His timetable. God does not need our permission or instructions to act.