Summary: When you "hit the wall" of doubt on your faith journey, what do you do?
Listen to these entries in David Heller’s delightful little book, Dear God: Children’s Letters to God.
Dear God, What do you do with families that don’t have much faith? There’s a family on the next block like that. I don’t want to get them in trouble, so I can’t say who. See you in church. Alexis (age 10)
Dear God, I have doubts about you sometimes. Sometimes I really believe. Like when I was four and I hurt my arm and you healed it up fast. But my question is - if you could do this why don’t you stop all the bad in the world? Like war. Like diseases. Like famine. Like drugs. And there are problems in
other people’s neighborhoods too. I’ll try to believe more. Ian (age 10)
Ever feel like Ian? Or Thomas? If we were honest, we would ALL admit to having doubts about our faith at one time or another. Not doubts about
whether God exists or not. More than 90% of Canadians believe that there is a God. But we have doubts about God’s justice, we doubt whether God is really in charge, whether all things are truly possible with God. With good reason, I might add.
This week, our church family has been deeply saddened by the deaths of Mary Wakelam and Gerry Sureau. Earlier this week I conducted a memorial
service for Sheila Greer, who suffered her first and fatal heart attack. She was 60. Mary was 67, Gerry 72–all relatively young by today’s standards. They were all supposed to enjoy the golden years, but death got in the way. We cannot help but ask the question: “Why did God allow these fine people to die at this stage of their lives?”
If you read the newspaper, watch news shows, or browse the news pages on the Internet, you can find even more reasons to doubt the existence of a good, powerful, just and fair God. Those who have never consumed a drop of alcohol die at the hands of drunk drivers, earthquakes and other natural calamities wipe out entire neighbourhoods and towns with no advance
warning, innocent people are murdered, babies arrive with debilitating birth defects...get the picture? It ain’t pretty, is it?
It is normal to have doubts. It is OK to have doubts. But what matters is what you and I do with our doubts. Sometimes doubts can be “ants in the
pants of faith” that keep us alert, and keep our faith fresh and active. Or as someone else described it, they can be the fleas of faith. Just as a dog has to
swat the fleas away, so do we have to brush away doubts, which keep us from falling asleep on our faith journey.
However, there are times when doubts can stop us cold in our tracks and bring our faith journey to a complete halt, or at least force us to drop out,
either for a short spell, or on a permanent basis. It is as though we’ve hit a wall.
An analogy that helps us understand this phenomenon is the marathon.
Rather than hear a second-hand version from me, you are fortunate this morning to hear from one who has some experience in participating in
marathons, Rosemont’s own Wes Labrash.
When did you start running?
I started running in the summer of 1999. After losing a lot of weight I set a personal goal to run the Boston Marathon. To my knowledge this is the only Marathon outside of the Olympics that one has to qualify for. It is also the longest continually running marathon in the world.
For those of us who are not familiar with the marathon, how long is it?
Every marathon is the same length-26.2 miles which equals 42.195 kilometres. The world record time was 2 hours 5 minutes and 57 seconds. It was set in Chicago last fall. The winner had to run almost 13 miles per hour for 26.2 miles. Most runners complete it around 4 hours. My qualifying time for Boston is 3 hours and 10 minutes. There are two marathons in
Saskatchewan-Saskatoon and now Regina-and there are more marathons all the time since the sport is growing in popularity.
Do you ever have doubt during the race?
Yes. When I start to feel the pain, I wonder whether I missed something in training or whether I calculated my speed incorrectly and I am running to fast and wearing myself out. All those second thoughts go racing through my mind and I think “Oh no, maybe I have been careless and I messed
something up. What if I don’t finish?” But as quickly as those thoughts come, I am able to get positive again to think my way through it. This is why the winners of the marathons are usually in their late 30s and early 40s. They have more experience and they have the mental discipline to convince their