When I first became a Christian, I felt an immense relief that I no longer needed to carry life’s burdens alone. The following words were like a soft bed after a long sojourn in the desert.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:29 – 30
Although many mature Christians told me that having faith does not immunize me from danger, I didn’t really get it. “Oh, sure, trouble will find me, but it won’t have the same effect on me as before.”
When bad things happen, from the driver who cuts me off in traffic to unexpected test results from the dermatologist, I panic. And God forbid I stay within my own neurotic brain. Oh, no. I have to have an existential crisis of faith. “Do I really believe God has plans for me to prosper and not perish?” I wail internally – or sometimes externally to friends on the phone. “Is this Jesus of mine the real deal or am I just latching onto him as a crutch because life is too bleak without him?”
This valley of the unknown is almost worse than my desert journey. At least before I had the promise of a bed to sleep in. Now, I have had the rest, and yet I’m still tired.
Since forcing myself to believe just to feel better doesn’t work for my spinning brain, I do a few things to get centered.
1. Pray – If God is who he is says he is, then I don’t have to do anything but turn to Him in humble petition. Often, the meditative act of slowing down and releasing my cares is a huge relief. The sense of peace can only come from God and not positive thinking alone.
2. Read – “Misery loves company” – so the adage goes – and this can be applied to doubt as well. I take immense comfort in the words of authors and theologians I respect who are honest about their own struggles with doubt when ill will strikes.
“Shouldn’t a loving God intervene more often on our behalf? And how can we trust a God we can near confidently count on to come to our aid?” Phillip Yancey, Reaching for an Invisible God
Some of you might say, “Read the Bible for assurance! Don’t just go to people!” I very much agree with this in principle, but sometimes even the Good Book comes in question for me. When that happens, I find myself calming down when I hear other believers share their insights. It helps me to recall where God has indeed shown up for me.
Then I pray.
Then I read some more.
And ultimately, I find my way back to the Bible yet again. It’s a fun cycle, and it’s all mine!
Actually, it’s not. It’s something many of you likely go through, too.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about why I always come back to belief in Jesus.
Also, stay tuned for the “I’m a Believer” campaign coming May 31. You might recall our last campaign which featured such voices as Allison Herrin, Jarrid Wilson and Sharon Jaynes. While that campaign was a wonderful tribute from well known voices about the power of Christ, Believe.com is thrilled to bring more “every day” believers like Penny into the fold.
Leave a comment: Anyone out there want to share periods of doubt they went through and how they dealt with it?
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