Is it Wrong to Doubt?

"But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

"'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:22-24

Occasionally I have these little doubts that creep in, especially when I'm sacrificing something really big for God. In fact, the higher the stakes of what I'm laying on the line, the more I hear the little questions in my head: "Is this all really true? Is there any chance God isn't real and I've done all this for a big, empty, dead-end lie?"

I'm actually ashamed to admit I still have these occasional thoughts. After all God has done in my life beyond imagination, many things even downright miraculous. Still, I'm putting a lot on the line here—like my all. I suppose in this case, these are normal thoughts.

Recently, I started reading the condensed biography of Billy Graham. This is weird because a friend bought it for me on a whim and she doesn't even know about my doubts OR that I think about Billy Graham and other faith patriachs like him a lot (namely George Mueller & Bill Bright). I wonder if they ever had doubts, dark days, or human struggles like the rest of us…like me. Everything in their hugely successful faith/ministry seemed too perfect and easy from the outside looking in. It's like they have the world by the tail and every experience is only on the mountaintop. They've seemed above human frailty, discouragement, and sin, so what is there to doubt?

But as I'm reading BG's life story, I find it riddled with self-doubt, insecurity, and even the very same occasional God-doubts I seem to be contending with. Many of his biggest doubts came after years of amazing success in his ministry. Billy Graham, for Pete's sake! The guy that led millions to Christ and was an evangelistic legend worldwide. How in the heck did he have doubts? Seriously, if he had doubts, how can I not?

I think it goes back to this: we're all frail humans. Even BG. He had to work through all his doubts about God the same way I'm working through my own at times, and the same way that Bill Bright and George Mueller must have worked through theirs. It actually brings me a big dose of comfort to know that even seemingly faith giants get insecure about God once in awhile, so maybe I'm not so weird after all. And through reading and meditation on these topics, I've gleaned a couple valuable insights recently:

1. Anytime you are called to a God-sized work, you should have continuous self-doubt, because God will usually give you the greatest success in an area that you are not able or adequate in and of yourself. That way, you stay dependent and full of humility in His strength, not your own. It also means His assignment for you will probably never be entirely comfortable. Hard to get comfortable with the thought of this.

2. The simple but profound thing that struck me recently about the provable existence of God is this: If there's NOT a God and all things are left to chance, then nothing good should ever come out of bad things. Bad things that happen to us should, in theory, spiral us down into utter dark hopelessness with no way out. We should never sense a redeeming quality about suffering and hardship…unless…there IS a God who is a positive, loving force, working all things out for our good in the end.

And looking back over my life, that is exactly what has happened. The very worst things have beautifully and miraculously been used for good in my life.

I believe, Lord! Help me overcome my unbelief.

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