Faith, Doubt and Pain: A strange equation

I wish that every thought I had was always lucid or logical. I wish that I could write a coherent blog post but I currently have a bazillion random thoughts buzzing through my brain. So tonight is ramblings of current processing. Cheers!

On Pain

Many times I hear people say “God could do x, y and z overnight!” or “You know God is powerful enough to do fill-in-the-blank with the snap of His finger.”

Yes. All true.

And, I think I have come to realize that God cares more about who we are becoming along the way rather than our reaching the end goal or achieving current objectives. He longs to transform our hearts to be more like His own. He longs to draw us close so that we can and will depend upon  Him solely. He longs to be glorified in our lives regardless of what our circumstances say otherwise.

So despite my recent frustrations with God, my disappointment or pain that I am currently experiencing, He has somehow managed to reveal a silver lining, if you will. Sure, God could change things in the blink of an eye, but that would rob me of the journey.

Never before have James’ words echoed in my heart with such clarity,

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

Right now I certainly feel like my faith has received a big, fat ‘F’ on the trials and testing God has sent my way. Good thing I have Jesus to pass my entrance exam to heaven 😉

On Doubt

Somehow doubt and pain, or suffering, typically seem to be linked for me. My pain or suffering causes me to doubt God in some way or another, which usually feels like a faith crisis spiraling out of control. My experience in most Christian circles is that we mask our disappointments and frustrations, anesthetize ourselves to the pain and forbid doubts to be voiced.

This grieves my heart deeply as I believe Jesus longs for us to live fully alive: acknowledging our disappointments and frustrations to Him, revealing our woundedness to the Great Physician and expressing our doubts loud and clear to our Creator.

As a scientific-minded person and an engineer by training, doubt is a dangerous thing that can become destructive if unchecked. I desire concrete examples, tangible answers and full-proof solutions; doubt is like a poison that can slowly seep through any evidence I have gathered and gradually erode it to infinitesimal, unsubstantiated evidence.

But doubt and pain that are taken to the Lord – with an earnest heart seeking truth and healing – can be transformational. Doubt and pain can become a hallmark of our faith: a faith that has been refined, reinforced and honors God.

I recently started reading Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey and I love it. Never before have I connected so closely to an author’s thoughts than in this one. And since he is much wiser and more of a seasoned doubter than I, allow me to share a few excerpts:

I must exercise faith simply to believe that God exists, a basic requirement for any relationship. And yet when I wish to explore how faith works, I usually sneak in by the back door of doubt, for I best learn about my own need for faith during its absence. God’s invisibility guarantees I will experience times of doubt …

Faith appears where least expected and falters where it should be thriving. What gives me hope, though, is that Jesus worked with whatever grain of faith a person might muster. He did, after all, honor the faith of everyone who asked, from the bold centurion to doubting Thomas to the distraught father who cried, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” …

Doubt is the skeleton in the closet of faith, and I know no better way to treat a skeleton than to bring it into the open and expose it for what it is: not something to hide or fear, but a hard structure on which living tissue may grow. If I asked every person to stop reading whose faith has wavered – as a result of tragedy, or a confidence-shaking encounter with science or with another religion, or disillusionment with the church or individual Christians – I might as well end the book with this sentence.

Alas, I could continue because the whole book is chock-full of wise, relatable passages from someone who has a real, tested faith. And it is so refreshing!

I end with this thought, that has propelled me through much of my walk with God recently. It doesn’t matter “how much faith” I have, but rather, in Whom my faith lies.

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Jesus

This entry was published on March 11, 2014 at 9:58 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Faith, Doubt and Pain: A strange equation

  1. susan wallis on said:

    Always encouraging! Love you!

    Sent from my iPhone


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