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Today’s Reflection

SOMETIMES WE THINK of doubt as a failure in a person’s faith. I believe, rather, that doubt is a human condition. The scriptures tell us the story of people with amazing faith – Abram and Sarai, Moses, Esther, Job, Mary and Joseph. And they tell us about faithful folks who struggled with faith – the disciples, who hid behind locked doors after the resurrection (John 20:19-23); Thomas, who needed more proof to believe (John 20: 24-29); and even Jesus, who asked whether the cup of suffering could pass from him (Matthew 26:39).

Doubting, asking questions, struggling to believe – these are not signs of human failings, but are human experiences. The challenge for us is, perhaps, to continue to engage our struggles, to face our fears, to wrestle through the night – and, during those dark nights when we cannot feel or believe that God is present with us, to continue the work that was set before us.

Alive Now

From the Editor’s Note by Beth A. Richardson, page 5 in Alive Now March/April 2016. Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How has doubt played a role in your spiritual formation? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.

Psalm 31:9, NRSV

This Week: those who serve communion. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Patrick of Ireland (March 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Jill March 15, 2016, 4:16 am

    I agree with Beth – the author quoted above. I had never thought of Jesus, praying in Gethsemane – as Him being in a state of doubt. I often view that time in the garden as when He spoke truthfully with His Father – from a human perspective. And, ultimately – His God nature wins out…not My will, but Thine be done. I think – if our doubt ultimately ends there – perhaps it can be healthy doubt??? I will be anxious to hear from my family members here – your perspectives on this. Please broaden my perspective.
    Father – assist me to desire what You desire.
    Grateful for tasks accomplished at school yesterday while my student teacher led each of my classes in a celebration of Pi day. Grateful to see the joy return to my friend (who had put her dog down two months ago) as she has a new boxer puppy. Grateful that the storm last evening did not knock power out, despite intense lightning and wind.

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling March 15, 2016, 5:35 am

    When I go through difficult times, I too will have doubts but I always pray that God will protect me from the lies of satan and reveal to me the truth or let me experience His power and love in the situation.

    Grateful for a day off my annual leave (actually minus two half days from my 14 half-day leave.).

    Grateful for Jill’s safety despite the storm.

    May God protect us from all harm and danger. Thank you Father God for your faithfulness and protection.

  • Rusty March 15, 2016, 6:57 am

    I believe doubt is a part of God’s plan for us in that it can help us, when we return to faith, to be even more firm in our conviction that God’s promises are true. I sometimes (often?) encounter doubt, and it serves a reminder for me to choose, even more firmly, to believe and to love God. After a tussle with doubt, I find returning to belief to be like a shot in the arm, and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Were it not for the possibility not to believe, and were it not for the fact that we do encounter doubt as we move through an live in an unbelieving world, I would conclude that we had something less than free will and the ability to think for ourselves. The fact that we have the ability to doubt to me means God loves us even more. He never forces us to believe. He always leaves room for our choice. And he beckons. Praise you, Lord! If it were up to us, I think we never would have the wisdom to have done it that way.

    I like what C S Lewis said in the Screwtape Letters on the topic of believing when so much would cause us not to believe (Screwtape being the senior devil teaching Wormwood, the younger apprentice devil; and their “Enemy” being God):

    Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

  • Sara March 15, 2016, 7:17 am

    Yes, I doubt and I so appreciate Thomas in the Bible who also doubted. It’s always temporary and I come to the realization God is in control and His ways are not our ways. Thank you God for Your patience and love when doubt comes our way.

    May today be a blessed day for the UR family.

  • Howard March 15, 2016, 8:02 am

    The theme of this month’s issue of “Alive Now” magazine is Doubt. It has some very interesting articles about doubt and its place in the growth of becoming a stronger Christian. I think we have all said at one time or another,” God how could I doubt that you know what is best for me”? It is finding His will for our lives that leaves us with faith beyond a shadow of a doubt!

    Rusty thanks for the reference from Screwtape Letters, it does add to our understanding of doubt..

    Praying always, blessings to all who visit. Thankful for your daily post and comments.

  • Lou March 15, 2016, 8:06 am

    My fear, anxiety and worry are all very current ways that I doubt. I didn’t sleep at all last night because of this – I stray and need to keep refocusing and trust that the Lord is good and that he will take care of me. He is all I need – if I focus there my worry eases.
    Blessings to all that visit this site-may we put our trust in only Him. Prayers for all who seek you Lord this day. Ease our worries and doubts.

    • Rusty March 15, 2016, 9:50 pm

      Prayers that you will have a better night’s sleep tonight, Lou. God’s peace to you, friend.

  • robert moeller March 15, 2016, 8:17 am

    Grateful for Jill’s and Rusty’s comments, insight, and understanding of doubt.
    Yes, I agree that doubt is a human trait. If God doubted,God would have given up on us long ago. God doesn’t doubt, God loved us before we were born and while we were still sinners. I do think there is healthy doubt, the doubt asks questions, searches, looks. It is the doubt that Jesus describes when He tells us to knock and it will be opened.

    Some unbelievers have made me think about things after hearing their take on Christianity, Jesus, and God. In those situations, I have not been so swift on my feet to answer and some of my answers were seen as a cop out. I know God is real, have felt God’s presence, will lean on Him, trust and obey. Am I perfect in my obedience, no, but I’m not divine either. Thankfully, I can repent, confess, and be forgiven. Christians aren’t perfect, we’re forgiven. We do make an effort to perfect ourselves but without God’s grace the task can not be completed.

    Thankful for the support in yesterday’s posts, not only for Anneliese and I, but for others who shared their lives with us. I pray for prisoners about to return to society, may we forgive them , encourage them, as God does. Thankful for those who serve communion wherever and whenever.

    May you all have a blessed day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

  • Connie March 15, 2016, 8:23 am

    I haven’t doubted God’s love for me or my love for Him. However, I have doubted myself….my coping skills…especially lately when ill health looms all around. But, I will keep on keeping on because I know “from whence cometh my help. It cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

  • Ami March 15, 2016, 10:05 am

    I think going through times of doubt makes us better able to relate to others who struggle or flat-out do not believe. I have a dear friend who had for years embraced atheism; if I never had been through periods of doubt myself, I think my untested, pie-in-the-sky declarations of faith would have turned her off, and I might have judged her for her unbelief, and we might never have become friends. As it is, she has recently expressed interest in exploring faith, and I have been able to tell her about the positive changes I have seen in myself since I embraced faith and that though the horrible suffering in the world has at times caused me to doubt, I have *chosen* to believe anyway because faith serves me — and through me, the world — better than doubt does. She is very much a humanitarian. Seeing the heart that she and other atheist friends have for people and for humanitarian causes despite their lack of belief in God also challenges me to make sure that my faith exists not just to comfort me personally but to make the world better for others.

  • Andrea March 15, 2016, 5:17 pm

    I am grateful for all of these comments. My prayers for each one of you, those you name and those you have named. Quite a while ago, I read a book called ‘Know Doubt: Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith’ by John Ortberg. He normalizes doubt. When I doubt, I tell God about it. I believe that, despite doubting, despite wavering faith, one can still be faithful. “So faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.” I too like the Wormwood quote. Wishing a blessed Tuesday to all.

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