My thoughts (Linda Bernabie):
In Psalms 94 I see a psalmist who has a multitude of questions and doubts about God’s justice. He sees God allowing evil to prosper while the righteous (including him) are being oppressed. No doubt he is asking himself, “What is God thinking? Why doesn’t God destroy these evil people? Why doesn’t God do it my way?” The psalmist is unwilling to trust that God will do what is best.
Doubting God’s decisions is a tough place to be when facing some of life’s challenges. Faith in God’s decisions is what holds everything together. Without faith, everything seems to fall apart.
From time to time events have happened in my life that take me to that dark place of questioning and doubting God’s judgment. I try ignoring my doubts: “Maybe if I ignore these doubts long enough they will go away, and God won’t notice.”
“Trust me, God WILL notice!”
When I question God, I begin to lose faith. I begin feeling guilty, confused, abandoned, and ashamed. With my doubting heart, I ask myself, “Does God care? Is God listening? Is God even aware of my existence?”
Then I begin to blame myself for my unfaithful thoughts and feelings. “Maybe I need to pray more, or find some verse in the Bible that speaks to me about trusting in God’s judgment. Maybe I need to go to church more, or get rid of my non-believing friends and only associate with people of faith.”
I must be doing something wrong! If I have unquestioning faith, I would not doubt God. RIGHT?
WRONG! Doubt is not a sign of spiritual failure but is a unique opportunity for spiritual growth.
Doubting is painful and can be terrifying because we feel we could lose God’s love. But we are not losing God; we are only losing a (lower case g) god that we have created in our own mind, a god that lets us make our own decisions, a god who happily agrees with us about everything, a god that always answers our prayers with a resounding yes! Most faithful Christians sooner or later get caught up in believing that the god of their imagination is the real God.
The truth is, just like our parents, God’s actions are not always what we have imagined or expected. God doesn’t answer our prayers based on what WE want. God answers our prayers based on what is best for us. We must let go of thinking life should always go our way, and start letting it go God’s way.
God will always hear our prayers and will always answer them; we just may not like the answer!
God’s answers are:
- “NO, I love you too much”
- “YES, but you’re going to have to WAIT”
- “YES, but in a different way than you expect”
- “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!”
Thought for the day: “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.” (Paul Tillich, theologian)
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.