Doubt and Unbelief......
At first glace these words seem similar in many ways, but after reading chapter eleven of Joyce Meyer's book Battlefield of the Mind it was easy to see just how different these two words are when being spoken in reference to our relationship with God.
Doubt has to do with wavering between hope and fear. When we choose to be filled with doubt we will soon be filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
Unbelief, on the other hand, is much more serious. When we choose not to believe we are choosing disobedience.
The devil uses BOTH doubt and unbelief to keep our minds all worked up.
Joyce talks about the faith that Abraham had to have to keep believing God's promise for a son years after the promise had been made. He believed God's Word would come true....and eventually it did.
Joyce talks about Peter's desire to walk on the water to meet Jesus and how after stepping out of the boat and taking a few steps Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.......doubt overcame him as he realized that he was doing something that was beyond human capability, and he chose to look too closely at the reality of where he was standing rather than keeping his eyes on the one who was leading him over his reality.
When I think about my personal life and the words "doubt" and "unbelief," I have to say that I have struggled with both at different seasons.
I remember writing to my mom and dad after we lost Adrienne and I was so sad. I remember saying that I was struggling to believe..that I was beginning to feel like Jesus didn't love me. In my mind I was beginning to believe that if He truly loved me, then He wouldn't have allowed our little baby girl to die. Dad wrote me back and some day I hope I can find the letter that he wrote, because in it he told me that my belief in Jesus was not about how I "felt." It was about KNOWING that Jesus is God's Son no matter what. It took several years for me to climb out of the pit of depression after losing Adrienne, but I clung to those words. I could not base my love for Jesus or His love for me on MY feelings. My relationship had to be deeper and stronger than how I felt, because my feelings change dramatically from day to day. Had I chosen to continue to allow my doubt to turn to unbelief, I would be a bitter, cold person today. Unbelief leads to disobedience. Thank you, Lord, for protecting me from that path. If you feel that you are on this path, please know that I am praying for you right this minute..passionately and with deep love.
Years later when Nick began his fight with cancer, I entered an entirely new chapter of being stretched in the areas of doubt and unbelief. Hearing of other people's children beating cancer and then discovering that Nick had yet another brain tumor became more and more difficult with every passing year. Realizing that the doctors could do no more, I remember walking through every room in our house one night in the middle of the night, crying over Nick who was sleeping, and then over Todd as he was sleeping and then over Olivia as she was sleeping....all the time pleading with God to heal our son. I finally came downstairs and woke up Tim and cried some more. We went down to the family room and I cried and cried and told Tim that I couldn't live if Nick died. I felt our life was spinning frighteningly out of control and I didn't know what to do. We were walking in the valley of the shadow of death, and I wanted out of the valley.....desperately.
Through the prayers of many, many prayer warriors all over the world, we somehow gained a peace in those last few months of Nick's life and were able to share many more special memories, but I have to be honest.....it is still hard for me to hear of other people's miracles. I have to make a choice EVERY TIME I hear a "God is so good, because He......" to not give in to unbelief.
Remember the kitten "Miracle" that arrived at our home a couple of months ago after being thrown from a car window? Well, our cat Marbles has not liked Miracle ever since the minute she arrived. I have felt great sympathy for Marbles and have jokingly said, "It's hard to live near a miracle when it's not yours."
I guess I say all of this today to say this:
If you are full of praise because God has answered your prayers in the ways you wanted, please be gentle near those who have not had the same kinds of answers.
And if you feel as if you have prayed and prayed, but God seems to be answering your prayers with a "no" or "wait," please do not give in to doubt or unbelief.
One day we will understand God's ways.......but that "one day" won't be while we're here on this planet; so it's best to not even try to understand right now.
That's where faith comes in.
We have to walk by faith......and often it is a walk that moves from faith to faith.......requiring a little more with each step we take.
(New American Standard Bible)
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
This chapter really spoke to me this weekend. I want to walk from faith to faith not doubting or being overcome with unbelief.
Like Abraham, I want these words from
Romans 4 to be true for me too:
"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
Am I sad? Yes
Am I full of joy? Yes
Do I have questions? Yes
Do I know the One who will provide the answers? Yes
Thankful, so thankful, for a God who understands how I can say "yes" to all these questions and who longs to help me win the battle for my mind.
Praying that you realize how much He loves you too.
I know this picture has nothing to do with doubt or unbelief, but it does have to do with trying to stay strong in the battle of life........See, this is me in Nick's football jersey with four of Nick's friends' moms in their son's jerseys last weekend the day after the football field dedication in memory of Nick. As we all cried at the football field, I said to these friends of mind, "One day this will all make sense....IT BETTER!!"
And deep inside, I know it will. For me and for you. :)
Stay strong. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
I love you all so much,