The deceitful and cruel nature of humanity molds many of us into skeptics. We have no desire to be duped into evil schemes. Investing, for example, often feels like an exercise riddled with doubts. Experts tell you to hang on to your Mutual Funds for 20 years and they will yield a decent increase. All the while the market is swinging furiously from bear to bull, and our monthly statements have us biting our nails in anxiety. The doubtful pull out early, often missing out on tremendous dividends.
Doubts have their place. When it comes to listening to people, a healthy dose of doubt often protects us from slippery schemes.
Doubting God, on the other hand, makes us gullible to Satan’s schemes. Doubt is, in fact, one of Satan’s trickiest tools.
Doubt Drags Us Down
Jesus called Peter out of a boat in the middle of the ocean during a storm. Peter, a fisherman by trade, knew getting out of a boat in a storm was crazy, but he also had witnessed Jesus’ power. He swung himself out of the boat and walked on the water. As long as he trusted Jesus, he stood on the water as though it were dry ground.
But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
~ Matthew 14.30-31, ESV*
Instead of standing in faith, Peter sank in doubt. Fortunately, he knew that Jesus had the power to rescue him, and so he called out again in faith, “Lord save me!”
How many times in your life have doubts diminished your trust in God? How many times has God proved Himself bigger than our doubts? Why, after God has proved His power, do we continue allowing skepticism to sink our faith?
We act in doubt when we refuse to pray.
We act in doubt when we stop seeking God’s wisdom.
We act in doubt when we succumb to despair.
Doubters are Unstable
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
~ James 1.5-8, ESV
When I read about King Saul, he fits the above description perfectly. One minute he’s out conquering kingdoms, the next minute he’s afraid the people will overthrow him. He can’t decide whether to trust God or listen to his fears. As his narrative progresses, his behavior and his thinking become more delusional. He grows paranoid. He has innocent people killed. He moans and wails about how God no longer communicates with him, refusing to acknowledge that he had already discarded God’s counsel. He allowed himself to be tossed around by his doubts instead of anchoring himself in godly trust.
How do we prevent ourselves from becoming like Saul? How do we avoid being “the double-minded man”?
Replace Doubt with Trust.
Sometimes our prayers are doubtful. “I hope the Lord will do this, but He probably won’t.” Kick that thinking out of your mind and out of your prayers. Instead, trust God’s excellent will. If God does not answer your request the way you want it answered, He has an excellent reason. It took me years to figure out that God’s ways really are higher (and better) than my ways.
When you find yourself doubting, call out to the Savior to strengthen your faith. Tell Satan, “It is written, trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding…”
If you don’t know “what is written” commit one or more of the following scriptures to memory:
Proverbs 3.5-8: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths…”
Psalm 46.10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Philippians 4.6-7: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 6.34: “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
Seek God’s counsel, trusting that He will give you the direction you need. Do not doubt His power, goodness, or love for you, even when circumstances scream for your capitulation. We will never know peace until we trust in God’s power.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
~ Katharina A. von Schlegel
What truths from God’s word do you lean on when you are tempted to doubt? Has doubt ever caused you to make foolish choices?
This is the final installment of the series, “Belief Shapes Action.” To read previous posts from this series, click the links below: