Faith or doubt (or both)?

Throughout the psalms, King David often expressed seemingly contrasting sentiments of faith and doubt. Sometimes David proclaimed an unshakable assurance that God heard his prayers and would indeed work powerfully on his behalf, but at other times he retracted those statements, uttering more despairing notes of discouragement or fear.

Sometimes David knew that God would rescue him; sometimes he hoped that God would rescue him, and at other times, he seemed convinced that God would never rescue him again. Sometimes David was confident that God was listening to his prayer and at other times—sometimes in the very same psalm—he was convinced that God was ignoring him. So, which was it? Was David a man of faith or doubt? Or both?

I think David had learned to live inside the tension of a faith-based life, wherein we can be both confident and doubting at the same time. It isn’t a sign of faithlessness or a weak relationship with God to wrestle with doubts. Even John the Baptist, the greatest human ever born (Matthew 11:11), wrestled. It is not a bad tension to echo the sentiment of the desperate father who approached the Lord for his son saying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

It is a normal part of Christian life to believe while trying to believe. It is okay to be utterly certain while also hoping that we are right. Those are not irreconcilable tensions; rather, they are the wrestling mats on which our faith is stretched, tested, and spurred toward increased strength. God meets us on that mat. He encounters us in that tension. He uses our struggle with doubt to ultimately strengthen our faith. If you are in that wrestling place today, be encouraged. King David and other giants of the faith struggled their way through similar moments and came out powerful and strong on the other side.

If you feel you are losing your faith, don’t panic. Just pause and rest, trusting that God is greater than our doubts. He is not shaken when our faith in Him falters, and if you give Him enough time, you will eventually see where He has indeed been at work and your faith will begin to breathe again.

There above it stood the Lord, and He said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying…I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’” (Genesis 28:13, 15-16)

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