A Doubting Faith
‘"But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked'" – Isaiah 57 v 20 - 21
"But let him ask in faith with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." – James 1 v 6 - 8
In both Isaiah and James, the picture of a stormy sea is used to describe both the doubting and the wicked. Why would God associate these two groups of people? A wicked man supersedes even a sinner. A sinner can still have good motives, but poor judgment. A wicked man however, has evil intent. Such a man has hardened his heart against God. Those whom James is addressing in the first chapter of his epistle are believers, followers of Christ and servants of their Father God. Why would the Bible place a wicked unbeliever and a doubting believer on the same level, comparing them both to storm-tossed seas?
In character and in their eternal destinies, these two groups are very different. However, their torment and fruitless existence are identical in nature. Neither group have peace. A wicked man will have no peace because of his separation from God, the only source of true peace. A doubting believer will have no peace because of the anxiety that constantly dominates his thinking. Neither group are productive in good works. A wicked man will have no interest in doing good works; his works are inherently evil. A doubting Christian will be unable to produce good works, because of his unsettled, indecisive and irresolute nature.
And so, if the word of God so eagerly dissuades against doubt, what is the result of resolute, steadfast faith? In Romans 4 v 20 - 21 we read the following concerning Abraham –
"He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."
Abraham had been given a promise by God … a crazy, outlandish, impossible promise. The Bible speaks of him not wavering as a wind-driven sea, but rather being steadfast in faith. His misstep with Hagar (Genesis 16) was perhaps more the result of an impatient desire to "help God out a bit" than a sign he doubted the ability of God to accomplish His word. What is interesting to note, is what resulted from his refusal to waver in unbelief. By refusing to doubt, the faith of Abraham experienced a growth spurt – his faith grew stronger, not weaker! He was strengthened in faith, the Bible states. What an awesome concept. To the unwavering believer, trials have the potential to function as hot houses, creating environments in which our faith can grow and thrive. If challenges are embraced, rather than faltered at, our faith will grow under adversity. Such is its nature.
FLIGHT AND FIGHT
What a lesson to learn! Firstly, the Bible warns the Christian to run from doubt as hastily as one would run from wickedness and sin. Doubt is in essence unbelief, even if that doubt lasts for a moment. True belief is not believing for a moment, then doubting for a moment, then believing for a moment again. This is not faith. This is unbelief, producing as much effectiveness and courage as storm-tossed waves would comfort a seasick passenger. Secondly, faith has the ability to use adverse circumstances as a catalyst for growth. Embrace the adversity, refuse to doubt and enjoy a faith explosion. What an adventure, what a challenge.