It was a very difficult moment. My wife and I were sitting in the living room. Discouragement and doubt were creeping in. We had just had another stressful health episode with our daughter and the circumstances were so overwhelming that it left Leslee in a very hopeless and discouraged place. I have never actually seen her in such despair in all of our years of marriage. I wanted to say something encouraging but did not feel like my words could reach the depth of despair she was feeling. I too was discouraged and unusually wordless.
Then the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, “God is”. I told my wife this. I continued…Because God “is” we can trust Him. He is good. He is merciful. He is in control even when our circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. This was a turning point.
Doubt is our Enemy’s Greatest Tool
Satan’s chief design is to get us to doubt the truth of God’s character. If we slow down the video tape of our words and actions and examine them, frame by frame, we see that every sin is conceived in doubt. Doubt that God is who he says he is and doubt that he is able to do all that he has said. It is easier to fall to Satan’s scheme when the circumstances are emotionally painful and/or apparently hopeless.
Israel took the bait when despite God’s promise to give them the land of Canaan they believed instead the doubt-ridden report of 10 spies (Numbers 13). Think of the doubt-inducing serpent in the Garden, “Has God really said?” In both cases, devastating and long-lasting destruction were the consequences of doubting God’s word. We are all susceptible to the lies meant to shake our confidence in God.
In his book, Already Gone, Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis) reports that 61% of 20-29 year olds have left the church. If this were not startling enough, consider that 45% –almost half—of these 20-29 years olds (“left” in their hearts) before high school. What happened in their 20’s was only the natural outworking of a process that started in the elementary years. Ironically, 95% of these young adults were regular attenders of Sunday school. The ultimate reason for the attrition? According to the research, it is an inconsistent view of the Bible as the inerrant, authoritative, completely, 100% dependable Word of God. If we doubt the veracity of any part of the Bible, we can easily doubt its message of salvation.
Faith Trumps Doubt
Because we are created beings, we are dependent upon our God our Maker. And His word, the Bible, is his special revelation of himself to us. Yes. It takes faith to believe it, but it takes more faith to believe something or someone else: we just don’t realize it. Think about that! Why not just hold tenaciously towhat we know is true?
Faith Needs Daily Encouragement
In Hebrews 3:13, God commands us to encourage one another daily so that we don’t become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Note that in this very passage the writer of Hebrews uses the Numbers 13 generation referenced earlier as the example of what happens when we don’t believe! Note also that this is a daily command. Why? Because every thought, word and deed is a demonstration of what we believe. We can’t help but believe. It is our nature. But in order to believe in God we need to remind each other that God “is”. God’s word is true and 100 % reliable…despite the circumstances. We cannot depend on Sunday school to deliver this message because our battle with doubt occurs 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year—not just on Sunday morning. As husbands and wives, parents, siblings and friends, we must remind each other—especially in the darkest moments—that “God is”.
Speak this message to one another more and more but especially in the darker moments. When you gather your family together to read the Bible and pray, remind them that the Bible is God’s Word that we can trust what it says…entirely. I don’t think we can say this enough.
God is sovereign. He is loving, merciful. He is our source of life. His Word is true! We can depend upon God. These feel weak, maybe even insensitive to say. But these words said with humility, love, and empathy are powerful words that work powerfully especially in the painful, or hopeless moments.