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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Dealing with Doubt.
A beautiful place up a canyon called Oak Creek.
People do not proclaim their lack of faith. They hide it like an ugly scar. Few have the courage to admit to another that they lack perfect faith. Do you have times when you lack faith? Faith in anything at all? Many people think they are alone in this and they are not. You are normal if you find yourself lacking faith.
Think for a moment about the possibility of an average person never doubting. How can it be? Well it cannot. Mostly that is a dirty little secret that believers of anything fail to share. Let us take a fun one just because it is seasonable and of little consequence. A football fan has a favorite team. And they have faith in that team’s ability to win games. In some that we call fanatics that faith seemingly never waivers, even in the face of defeat. Their faith is illogical and makes no sense yet they have it. (oh sure there are teams that never lose – but that is a near oddity) Yet when that same person is asked to bet a lot of money on that team, they politely decline. In fact they doubt that their team will win. Their logic takes over and the real world sets in.
Take the patient that has full faith in their doctor. Chances are very good that if it is really important they will seek a second opinion.
The above two examples make perfect sense to most people and they are realities we live with every day.
But let us look at more important issues.
Do we doubt that we are worthy of God's love?
Faith in one’s spouse. This we proclaim even if that spouse has let us down time and time again. In love we continue to have faith in that person. Even when perhaps in logic we should not. In the cold reality of life we can see that when that faith breaks down so does the spousal relationship. Lack of faith is the single most cause of divorce when you really look at it. In this case think of how closely trust and faith are related. In fact we use the words almost interchangeably. When trust is lost in a relationship then faith is lost also.
Think of a contract that is yet to be performed. It is a promise of a future event and everyone knows that we cannot control the future to a %100 certainty. So we have faith that the contract will be performed. After a few glitches we begin to waiver in that faith. Soon we may have no faith in the contract at all and that relationship is broken and the sooner the better. This “anticipatory breach” is the cause of serious contractual disputes and the ruin of many a business.
Take the employment situation. An employee who comes in late or does not show for work on a repeated basis loses the trust of the employer to be present when agreed upon. Therefor the employer loses faith that the employee will come into work in the future and soon the employee is fired and replaced thus losing their job due to lack of faith.
These illustrations remind us that trust comes from that which is seen and faith comes from what is unseen. Belief that future events will unfold in one way or another is based on faith. But that faith comes from a time of trust. If trust is broken then faith waivers. This is just a natural fact.
Now to the meat and potatoes of the crux of this issue.
Faith that come spring these leaves again will be green.
Sometimes in the darkest night in confusion and despair, He is there, have faith and not doubt.
It is alright to doubt.
We routinely profess faith in a God. Should we never profess doubt? For Christians it is a triune God shrouded in a mystery of faith. That faith is taken on matters not logically explainable. One in three and three in one does not make sense and so it is taken on faith. Faith that this God exists and cares for His people.
Now imagine the parent with the child sick in the hospital. The parent and doctors do all they can to help to heal the child but nothing seems to work and the child gets more sick and slips dangerously close to death. The parents and family pray without ceasing and yet nothing comes of it in the short term. Now assume the child recovers. The faith and trust in God is affirmed and the faith grows. Now assume that despite all great effort and unceasing prayer the child dies. Faith and trust are broken. The family is now faced with doubt. This is the normal course of things.
Watch the TV or other news sources and watch the atrocities committed and the suffering unfold throughout the world. This happens constantly and time and time again. How can a reasonable person not lose trust that God cares for us and how can they maintain perfect faith? We must recognize that only a perfect person could be so graced.
But these are dramatic examples and good for illustration but not even a tiny portion of the breaking of faith. The vast majority of the break down in faith is in the day to day and not due to any failure of God. Yes that is correct. Faith is not a one way street. When we start believing that we are in total control of people, places and events our faith breaks down.
The valley of the shadow
The cure is in the process.
Yes there is a cure. The first step is to admit that it occurs. Denial for pride reasons or out of guilt is only to lead to a further internalized break down of faith. It comes with the territory of “not good enough to be loved”. There is a shame involved and often an isolation of feelings.
I once, during a sermon, asked for a raising of hands of those who had doubts. Only a few teenagers raised their hands. Now come on people, we all have doubts. Otherwise we would not try so hard to do it our way instead of God’s way. If we doubt that God will provide if we just do the tasks at hand we begin to try to control the situation and we begin a downward spiral away from faith and into our own understanding and ultimate failure.
And there you have it. The cure for a break in faith is accepting it as normal. If we recognize it we can rise above it and move on. We do not expect to live in a perfect world. Why should we expect that our faith should be perfect? Go ahead and doubt, see it for what it is and move on and upward toward a stronger faith. Is that not the goal? To increase our faith daily by being cognizant of our failures, confessing them and then doing better is great faith.
How about you?
Do you ever doubt?
Forewarned is forearmed? Really?
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