I recently read an article that said bloggers are either creating or reacting. Since I live a lot of my life inside my own head, a lot of my writing is stuff I find in there. But occasionally I check out what’s going on in the real world, and I react, and a lot of my reaction is to articles written by my son Christian Piatt. He writes faster than I can read, so I’m usually behind on his posts, but I read the one he posted yesterday morning called “When Ministers Get Honest about Doubt,” and it sparked some reactive thoughts.
This isn’t the first time we’ve danced around this issue. Several months ago he wrote an article called “The Problem Isn’t God; It’s Certainty,” and I responded with one called “Confusion and Certainty about God.” As I recall, it sparked some pretty lively discussion on Red Letter Christians, but it’s an important topic that’s worth revisiting.
In yesterday’s post, Christian told the story of a minister friend who was asked to step down from her position when she expressed doubts about some of the basic tenets of the Christian faith. He ended his article with some thought-provoking questions:
Does Jesus require certainty or mustard seeds? Is God enduring enough to withstand our doubts? Is there really no room in the Christian faith for questions, for hard days, for those moments when we feel so far from God that we wonder if we can really believe any of it?
My thoughts are that certainty and doubt are not mutually exclusive. Faith, like love, is a decision, not a feeling. We choose to love and act in a loving manner even when we don’t feel like it, and we choose to believe and act on that belief even when we don’t feel like it or understand it. We are putting our faith in God’s truth, not in our ability to believe.
The Apostle Paul writes a lot about the war between the flesh and the spirit. I choose to believe the truth of God’s Word, and in moments when the Spirit is strong, I feel that truth. But in moments when the flesh is weak, doubts sometimes creep in, not necessarily doubts about the truth but rather doubts about whether those truths apply to me and if God really cares. That’s when I choose to believe in spite of my feelings.
What does Jesus require? I believe he requires what we have to give: 5 loaves and 2 fish, a widow’s mite, a desire and a willingness to believe.
There is a story in the 9th chapter of the Gospel of Mark about a father who brought his son to Jesus to be healed:
21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
When Jesus told this man that all things are possible for one who believes, the man chose to believe, and he left the rest up to Jesus. In my spirit, I choose to believe, and when my human side begins to doubt, I ask Him to help my unbelief.