A Series Of Doubts

I wish that I couldn’t honestly say this, but I can and should if I am to be honest with myself and others. I have a lot in common with the Israelites in the Old Testament. I doubt.

They saw God miraculously deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians with the ten plagues. Afterward, they find themselves backed up against the Red Sea with the Egyptian army coming after them. They come up with what would seem to be a rational conclusion given their circumstances: God brought them out there to die.

I remember God providing miraculously for me to minister in Antwerp. Three times now our church has peered over the precipice of being financially broke. Each time, I despaired. Did you bring us this far God just to close this church?

And then God parted the Red Sea. Miraculously, the Egyptians walked across dry ground to get to the other side. And in the process, God even took care of their enemies.

It’s been nearly a year now since we last peered into the precipice. God is good. And each time that we have peered into the precipice, we have received what would seem to be nothing sort of miraculous provisions from God.

Soon after the Israelites reached the other side of the Red Sea, they accused God of bringing them out the wilderness to die. They felt that it would have been better to die as slaves in captivity than to starve to death in the wilderness.

Then I sit down and watch a tragic documentary taken from live video footage of the 2004 Tsunami. People dying. Helpless. Standing there one moment and disappearing into the ocean the next. I wished that it was some fake Hollywood film. And in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder if there really is a God. And if there is a God, why did He allow that to happen?

Then God miraculously provides manna from heaven for the Israelites to eat. These miracles don’t make sense. Food appearing on the ground in the morning. Food enough for the day but that will rot if you save it for the next. Miracles don’t have to make sense. That’s why they’re miracles.

And God reassures me through a hug from a child that He still loves me. It doesn’t make sense. The death and the tragedy of what I just saw makes God’s love hard to believe. But something is going on with the Spirit in that little hug from a child, and God uses that moment to reassure me.

Then Moses goes away too long. Too long, yet all of this takes place within one hundred days of the exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, and the manna from heaven. But their leader disappears. He went up to the mountain, and he still has not come down. They despair and build a golden calf to worship.

Sometimes I think that we, ministers, don’t express our doubts enough. We’re scared that we will lose our job if we do. So we pretend at times to have super faith, one where we never doubt. And in a weird, twisted way, we are wrongly setting ourselves up to be an idol rather than direct people to the true mentor and Father of us all. And we despair in the fakeness of ourselves.

If we sit still in the midst of all of our searing doubts. If the baby doesn’t move on the ultrasound. If our dearly loved one parts. If that ailment won’t lighten up. If our house is gone from under us or we find ourselves without a job. If during our darkest hour, we take time to be still and silent. If we would just tell God that we want to see Him, we will be satisfied.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV).