Doesn’t matter your faith system, we admire faith. Someone with a strong convicting faith we begin to look up to and wish we had the clarity, vision, stalwartness, and conviction which they have. When we think of people with a strong solid faith we think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We think of Mother Theresa. We think of Billy Graham. Amazing people of faith. And for those in our communities and for those in our churches, we prize and look up to, wishing we had their faith.
Looking through the Bible, we admire those like David, who in faith step forward and lived out the promise God gave him to be king even though he was hunted by the mad murderous king Saul.
And we look down upon those who doubted God. We think of the infamous Doubting Thomas in John 20 who refused to believe unless he could touch the wounds of Jesus. We think of the father of the young boy possessed by an evil spirit in Mark 9 who said to Jesus “I believe; help me in my unbelief.” Doubt isn’t accepted in Christian circles. For those who struggle with doubt, they hold it secret, their cards close to their chest, trying to play out the life of the perfect Christian not wanting others to know that inwardly they struggle.
So many times pain can lead to doubt. The pain of a broken relationship, the pain of grief over a lost loved one or the loss of what once was or could’ve been, the pain of life being hard and burdensome. These pains begin to choke, sputter, and wear us down. And then when doubt begins to sink in, we struggle with the promises we’ve been told in the Bible and the realities that we face. We try so hard to cling to the promises of the Bible. We begin to feel like a shipwrecked passenger clinging for dear life to the broken fragmented hull of a ship, wanting something, anything, to tell us these promises are true for today and tomorrow.
And if we do begin to express our doubt we have our very faith questioned as if we never truly believed in the first place. In the midst of our pain, we’re quoted Romans 5
“We also glory in sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
And we get so tired of being told that we’re being told we’re building character. In our pain we don’t want anymore character, we want that hope which we can’t seem to grasp.
The prophet Habakkuk (pronounced either hab-ah-kuk or hab-uk-kuk) looks at the pain and suffering and injustice happening around him and cries out to God about it. God’s response isn’t what he expected. Instead of being told all will work out, God let’s him know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse. Not what Habakkuk was expecting or wanting.
Yet Habakkuk says these words
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
What great words of faith in the midst of pain. Though Habakkuk is filled with words of anger and doubt, he also displease immense faith.
So many times we divide faith and doubt. If you have doubt, you cannot have faith and if you have faith then there is no doubt. You are able to have a strong faith in the midst of a strong doubt. The two do are not separate but instead doubt betrays the evidence of a strong faith.
Yet we don’t know what to do with these conflict spiritual issues. We sometimes try to go back to the last spiritual high we had and hold on to that. Other times we plug our ears and pretend the pain and doubt doesn’t exist. God wants me to be happy so I’ll pretend to be happy and it’ll all go away. But it doesn’t. And many people simply walk away, not knowing what to do nor how to reconcile these two deep spiritual issues.
In that pain and doubt amongst the seed of faith, there is that slow slip away for some. Christians look upon this and click their tongues wondering if the person was ever truly “saved” in the first place.
Jesus speaks of his children, of his sheep to which he is the Good Shepherd to.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10: 27-28
Even in the pain and doubt, even in the slow walk away, even in the clicking of tongues, those who have found doubt amongst their faith can have assurance of a savior who clings to them even more so than they cling to him.
We don’t know the inner workings inside someone’s soul. We don’t know the peace of Christ by the Holy Spirit descending upon their hearts. In someone’s pain and despair, faith and struggle, we walk along side them, as Jesus has done with us, holding their hand as they walk through this valley of the shadow of death.