Does God Love Me When I Doubt?

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us.
God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.1 John 4:16 (NET)
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.
Happy is the one who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:22 (NASB)

Coming to believe in the depth of our hearts that God loves us is easier for some people than for others. For many, it’s a life-long struggle. I’m one of those people. That’s because of lies I believed. Lies about God. Lies about myself. Lies about what faith is. Gradually, God has been showing me what these lies are and my trust has grown stronger. Still, I sometimes doubt.

I’m encouraged as I find out from stories in the Bible that God loves doubters. He’s patient with them. He answers their prayers. He gives them the evidence they need to believe. In one story, a man whose son suffered uncontrollable seizures heard of Jesus. He didn’t have much faith but in desparation, he said,

“‘If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!'” (Mark 9:22-24 MSG) Jesus honored the faith this father had and answered his prayer. I’m sure this increased the man’s faith.

The ease in which we believe God loves us and our readiness to trust him is greatly affected by the culture and the home we’re born into. How do our parents treat us? Are they patient, fair, and kind?, Or quick-tempered, unfair, and mean? Do they offer grace or demand perfection? It’s natural for us to think that God is like these first authority figures.

In addition to the messages about God we’ve received from our family, we have our own beliefs about God’s love and reliability. Conclusions we’ve come to through our experiences, reading, and reflection. Sometimes instead of asking God to show me what he is like and what he wants, I focus on what I want him to be like and what I expect him to give me. So when he doesn’t immediately answer my prayer, I doubt he loves me.

Delay on God’s part to answer prayer may or may not be related to my faith or lack of it. It’s possible, he wants my trust to grow deeper, and give me a heart that perseveres. To believe with my mind is one thing. To believe with my heart is another thing. Through the hard experiences in life, I’ve learned to know God better and trust him more deeply. My faith has moved from being something others told me I should believe to something my mind and heart believe.

I’m convinced God answers our prayers not so much on the strength of our faith but more on the strength of his love and mercy. Instead of covering up and denying doubts, I bring them to him. He receives me just as I am. My love for him and my confidence in him grows.

I am learning to practice what the psalmist did. He said to God, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV

I rely on the love God has for me.
Though l trust imperfectly,
My God keeps on loving me.

I rely on the love God has for me.
Not put off by my anxiety,
My God keeps on loving me--

When this truth I fail to see, 
My God keeps on loving me.
Someday, I know I'll be free

Of fear and anxiety, for
My God keeps on loving me,
My heart asks, “How this can be?”

“I love him so imperfectly.”
Then one day I finally see
Why God keeps on loving me.

‘Cause God is love. He cannot be 
Anything less than loving to me;
Knowing this sets my heart free.

Though I still trust imperfectly,
My God keeps on loving me.
Someday, there’ll be no doubt in me.

Winds of Fear or Wings of Grace

He who observes the wind will not sow.
                                                Ecclesiastes 11:4

I look at the thermometer. It reads 45°. To my husband I say, “A good day to go for a walk.”
    “There’s a cold wind." he responds. You might want to step out the garage door and check it.” 
     “Oh, I don’t think I’ll go. I’ll walk inside.” 

After a few minutes, I look out the window. The tree branches are barely moving. I put on my warm coat, pull my knit hat over my ears and walk outside. I sniff the air. It’s so much fresher than the stale air inside my house. The wind blows. I'm facing it. Sweeping under my hat and swishing around my ears, it threatens to carry it off. Securing my hat with my mittened gloves, I keep walking. 

When I’ve walked as far as I want go for the day, I turn around and head back home. Now the wind is on my back, gently pushing me up the hill. Strengthened by it's energy, I feel as if I have wings. I’m flying. 

Fear, like a strong wind in our face, can cause us to turn back. Or we can walk into it. When we do so, God's Grace, like an empowering wind, gives us wings. Power to fly.

Are winds of fear causing you to doubt you can handle a challenge in your life? I hope you will not give up and turn back. Instead, face your challenge. With the power of God's grace, fly above fear.  

While walking home, I recalled the following poem I wrote a few years ago when  feeling anxious and hesitant about writing. 
a risk
false labor
a first attempt
a practice run
we must all began somewhere

the fearful
the perfectionist
and the procrastinator
fail to begin

for them
are signals of guilt
indications of failure
so they withdraw

threatened by clouds of disapproval
they refuse to plant.
they remain unknown
unheard of

withholding their talents from the world
their laboratories become
tombstones of anonymity
productive only
of boredom

If we do nothing with our gifts and talents , we rob both others and ourselves of joy.

Don’t Let Indecision Paralze you.

Elijah said to people wavering in their commitment, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision?”
1 Kings 18:21 (NET)

This morning I read the Old Testament story of Elijah confronting the indecisive people of his day. One word stunned me. Paralyzed. Someone who is paralyzed goes nowhere. Someone who refuses to make a decision goes nowhere. I never thought my indecisiveness was too serious. I never thought about how it keeps me stuck.

What does it feel like to be stuck? I know what it’s like to get stuck in a snowdrift. I’ve driven into a snowdrift and stepped into a snowdrift. I could go nowhere. The more I moved the deeper my car or feet sunk into the snow. Until I called for and received help, I remained there. Cold. Lonely. Anxious.

I thought about what decisions I’ve been avoiding. One is the decision whether or not to renew my website for another year or not? Whether or not to keep writing and posting my blog? I thought about how this indecision has been affecting me. How is it keeping me stuck?

This is what I realized. Not making a decision is a decision. It’s a ‘No’ I’m not admitting to. Not writing and posting anything has been kept me stuck in a snow drift of negative thinking. Self-doubt. Anxiety. Do I want to get out of this drift? Yes. I do. With the help of God’s grace, I am doing so. I’m making a commitment to write and publish a post every Friday.

Maybe you would like to ask yourself these questions.

  • What decisions am I avoiding?
  • Why am I avoiding them?
  • In what way(s) is this failure to me?