FAITH VERSUS DOUBT
[F. Black – June 2016]
When I use the word “Faith”, what comes to your mind? Probably your religious belief. We’ll get to that, but you should realize that you have faith in many, many things that have nothing to do with religion. You have faith that the sun will rise in the morning, that the lights will come on when you flip the switch, that your car will start, and so many other things. Faith is the belief that something is true and will happen.
I ride my bicycle for exercise. I think an example of absolute faith is my faith in drivers - that they will see me and steer away from me. If the driver’s attention wavers, I would be at the mercy of their two ton vehicle. When you drive, you have faith that others on the road will stay in their lanes, etc. [Actually, I’m always amazed that there aren’t many more accidents].
I’m just trying to get your thoughts on faith broadened a bit. It’s true that everyone has faith in something outside themselves. Even atheists have a belief [a faith] in the fact that for them there is no overarching power [no God] in their world.
If you have belief [faith] in something, have you ever had events happen or something that caused you to begin to doubt that your belief was correct. Of course you have. Well, the same can be true for your religious belief. Have you ever begun to have doubts about “the whole religious thing”? Come on, now. I have. Have you wondered how all the events have happened on planet Earth and how a God could actually have created all this? Again, I have. The question then arises, “Is it wrong to doubt”? No; a resounding NO! So, what do you do when doubts arise? I say ATTACK! What do I mean by ‘attack’?: look to the real, historical Jesus who prayed earnestly to His Father God; talk to other strong Christians; read articles/books by people who have worked through doubts [John Clayton, C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and others]; tell God of your doubts as you pray for what to do; and relax as some time passes. Don’t worry; our God is greater than any challenge and understands your doubting. By working through your doubts I can guarantee that your faith will end up being stronger! And by the way, doubts will keep arising over time. They are not a “one and done” phenomenon. Don’t be surprised, and be ready for them. Remember; ATTACK !!
I’m going to present some different definitions, thoughts, or stories about “Faith”:
· Of course Hebrews 11 is the best known Biblical definition. I like the way J.B. Phillips renders it in his version: “Now faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for; it means being certain of things we cannot see.”
· “Faith looks at God; unbelief looks at obstacles.”
· “Faith is NOT having all the answers.”
· “Faith is holding onto uncertainties with passionate conviction.” – Kierkegaard
· “Faith is NOT the absence of doubts.”
· “Faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” – Yancey
· Luke 17:5 – “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’.” We should offer the same in prayer.
· “Faith is a ‘process word’; it should motivate us to action.” –
· Jesus blesses us in John 20:29: “….blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet have believed.” [Jesus didn’t denounce Thomas for doubt]
· A favorite story of mine:
“Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert and dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old, deserted, ram shackled shack. In it he found just a bit of shade from the desert sun. As he looked around, he saw an old rusty, water pump. He crawled over to it and began to pump up and down. Nothing came out.
He struggled back to the shade. Then he noticed an old jug off to the side. He dusted it off and found an attached note that read, ‘You have to prime the pump with all the water in the jug my friend, and then you’ll get all you want. P.S. Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave.’
He popped the cork and sure enough there was water. Suddenly he was faced with a decision. If he drank the water, he could live. Ah, but if he poured the water in the old pump, maybe it would yield all the water he wanted. What should he do? Pour the water in the pump and take the chance of getting fresh water or drink the water in the jug and ignore the message?
Reluctantly he poured all the water into the pump. Then he grabbed the handle and began to pump …. Squeak ……. Squeak ……Squeak – Nothing came out. Squeak ….. Squeak -- a little water dribbled out, then a small stream, and finally it gushed! He drank his fill of the cool, fresh, life-saving water.
Then he filled the jug to the brim for the next traveler, put the cork on, and left a note: ‘Believe me; it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back’.”