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.