Life is full of moments that expose our doubts. In spite of all the Scripture we’ve learned and all the past victories the Lord has given us, occasionally something will happen that causes serious doubt.
Maybe it’s a financial situation that undercuts future security. It might be a miserable marriage. Perhaps it’s a pastor or a leader who has failed. Maybe it’s our own failure.
Whatever the reason, seasons of doubts and confusion can come even to the most committed followers of Jesus:
- John the Baptist struggled with doubts about his own beliefs about Jesus (Matt. 11:2-3).
- The apostle Thomas found the resurrection of Christ something he had to see before he’d believe (John 20:25).
- Some of the disciples had doubts about Jesus’ appearing to them, even at the Great Commission (Matt. 28:17).
I confess, I’ve had my doubts as well. Sometimes circumstances literally demanded I doubt God.
I will never forget one evening during my first few days in Jerusalem. A simple walk gave me an essential reminder that helped relieve my doubts.
Most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.
This tension is nothing new for a people who believe God will provide. In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why we are means seem so meager.
After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.
- This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
- Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
- However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
All this was to show that the land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would. For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).
Here’s why the same is true for us.
It started when we were kids. We still deal with it in today. We fail to receive love, and we drag bruised emotions behind us for years, still aching for affirmation.
Before we know it, our attitude becomes: “Who will make me feel good today?” Oh, we won’t say that, but we seek it. The result? We get to feeling depressed.
It’s not only relationships that challenge our joy. I remember reading about a woman who suffered from a disease of chronic fatigue. She decided to perform on herself the ancient procedure of trepanning—the cutting away a section of the scalp and drilling into the skull. After the operation she made a statement.
I was prone to occasional bouts of depression and felt something radical needed to be done.
When you’re feeling depressed—for whatever reason—and you need to do something, here’s what you can do.
And what you should never do.
Sometimes a deal looks so good it can’t be bad. Or what we stand to gain overshadows any thought of what we stand to lose. At the southern end of Israel sits a seaport with an ancient admonition to be careful.
The biblical city of Ezion-geber, near modern Eilat, served as Israel’s occasional port on the Red Sea. On one occasion, the gulf offered a tremendous opportunity for a lucrative shipping industry for King Jehoshaphat.
As with Jehoshaphat, Eilat parallels many opportunities you have today when your ship has come in:
- The financial deal promises a sure return on your investment.
- The kind, attentive gentleman asks for your hand in marriage.
- The promotion comes with the salary you’ve waited for a long time.
- The new church you’re attending is just around the block.
But in making these decisions, have you forgotten to ask the most important question?
The winter blast that blanketed America still managed to leave us Texans without much snow. Conditions rarely allow for it. A snowflake forms by a sudden freezing of water vapor in the air that turns from gas to solid so quickly it doesn’t have time to turn to liquid first.
The result is awesome!
A tiny six-rayed crystal displays the order, beauty, and uniqueness of God’s creative power. Even in a light snowfall (which is all that occurs in Texas), millions upon millions of delicate and unique snowflakes float down.
The snowflake illustrates how God created different things in the same way but still allows them to be completely unique.
That’s a lot like you, by the way.
You’re ready for a change. You’ve asked God to open a new door in your life, and He has taken years to prepare you for it. Finally, you’re ready.
There’s just one problem. Nothing happens.
The plan of God includes preparation and waiting. But why do you have to keep waiting once God has prepared you? What else must you do for God to open the door?
The Apostle Peter experienced something that may explain why your progress is delayed.
And what you can do in the mean time.
It’s hard to imagine an omnipresent God dwelling in one place. And yet, every December we celebrate the fact. God dwells in the confines of a human body. And He is also everywhere.
But the incarnation isn’t the first time God has localized His presence among His people.
God is both omnipresent and present. King Solomon summed up the seeming contradiction when he prayed:
Will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. —2 Chronicles 6:18
From creation to Christmas—and from today to eternity.
Let’s take a quick geographical journey and follow movements of God’s dwelling place among us.
Sometimes finding favor with God makes life much harder. You know the story. Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God. Many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.
What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an of God and not an act of passion?
Finding favor with God meant that she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins. But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much.
It comes from this amazing young woman.
Of all the questions leveled against Christianity, few others cause such heated controversy: “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” For many people, Jesus’ words equate exclusivity with arrogance:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. —John 14:6
The exclusivity of those words is unmistakable. Millions question: “How can Jesus be the only way to God? That’s not fair. It leaves out too many people.”
But if you think about it, the real question isn’t, “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” but rather we should ask, “Is God holy”?
Here’s why that’s the real issue.
Years ago I met a man named Igor who told me a story I’ve never forgotten. As a child growing up in the Soviet Union, Igor always believed communism’s assumption that God does not exist.
Yet as a gifted medical student and scientist, Igor studied the intricacies of the human body and natural world and struggled over their implications. Such precision in nature demanded a Designer—something his deep-rooted atheism refused to embrace.
Then one day as he and a friend drove through a wintry countryside, Igor saw a distant snowman all alone in the middle of a field—and the truth struck him. He slammed on the brakes.
“Look!” he said, pointing to the snowman. “How did that get there?”
His friend replied with the obvious answer: “Somebody built it.”
“There was no way,” Igor told me, “the details of nature just happened by chance. I decided I must find the truth.”
Just as the snowman had to have been made by someone, so did nature.