Doubt and Hope
We long for a life filled with purpose and meaning. We want to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves. There are seasons when we have to wait for God’s plan to unfold. We wait, watch, and hope. We want to believe. But circumstances around us can cause us to wonder if God has forgotten us as we hope for the unseen. The waiting time can make us weary and cause us to doubt.
I grew up in the church and felt like I knew a lot of answers – at least I knew where to find them in the Bible. However, now I see that until being on the other side of brokenness and redemption I really didn’t know the heart of God as the One who invites us in to ask the hard questions, share our deepest doubts, fears, and struggles with.
In times of doubt, disbelief, or darkness, our core beliefs about who God is make all the difference in whether we survive the storm or get lost at sea. Through the storms and beside still waters - God is still God. He is present in your circumstance even when you doubt. When life is bigger than we are, He is still there. He never leaves us.
Matthew 14:22-32 (NIV) reads, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from the land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake, they were terrified. “it’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
I love how Jesus addressed Peter’s doubt first. Jesus responded to his doubts with “take courage”.
Peter was undaunted by danger. He was doing the miraculous until he began to stare at the storm around him. He began to sink because his focus was no longer on the One who called him out on the water. He lost focus on Jesus’ authority and ability and instead began to look at what he was limited to within his own ability.
Have you ever felt like Peter?
Have you ever lost perspective and begun to wonder where was God was in the middle of your challenge? Or, have you ever wanted Jesus so badly that you would do anything, like Peter - stepping out of what is comfortable and familiar to do what seems impossible because God called?
We may never walk on water, but we will walk through tough situations and circumstances that can cause us to doubt. I think Peter must have worshipped in a whole different realm than the other disciples that night after his encounter with Jesus. I know on this side of redemption and my rewritten story I sure do.
Storms push us closer to God. As I’ve wrestled through my humanity (and still do in different ways), insecurities, and fears - God is faithful. He never changes. He is able to walk on water and He can calm the storms with two simple words – Be still. And through Christ, He gives us that authority in our own lives. By speaking His truth over our circumstances, anxiety is turned into peace.
We have never been hidden from God. Even before we drew a breath, He saw us and knew us. Devastating days can make it hard to hold onto hope. It can fade in the waiting or the stacking disappointments. The unseen can make us weary and cause us to shrink back. But that’s not what God intended. While there is breath in your lungs, there is hope – the promise of a new day. Because of God’s love we don’t have to be consumed by our circumstances. His compassions and faithfulness are real. Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV) assures us, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The key is to trust God whenever we feel like we can’t and wait on Him. His word and promises stand no matter the circumstance. Whether it’s waiting for a relationship to be restored, financial breakthrough, a job situation to shift, a child to be conceived, or whatever your specific situation is – He can be trusted to provide for your needs and help you walk in His plan for your life. Trusting in His faithfulness day by day increases our confidence and perseverance. God invites us into the unseen for intimacy with Him. It’s in this place where hope is born, which produces faith and belief. Hope is one of our greatest gifts and weapons. It is one of God’s foundational promises for us. The unseen is not meant to make us weary in the waiting. It’s an opportunity for us to know and trust God’s heart more.
With your journal
Read Lamentations 3:25.
Where do you find hope?
How does doubt keep you from living fully in God’s promises?
Is there a circumstance you have been hoping will change in your life?
What would it look like to let hope rise up in the midst of waiting, even though outwardly the circumstance is the same? And what truths from God’s word can you begin speaking over your circumstances?
Father, forgive me for doubting You and Your promises for my life. Help me in times of doubt and disbelief to see the truths about who You are – gentle, humble, loving, and capable. Your word says You will never leave us nor forsake us. I stand on Your truth today, Father, that you are with me and will redeem this season. Remind me throughout the day that You are still God, no matter my circumstances. Amen.
With your Bible
Read and say the following verses out loud: Job 13:15 |Psalm 25:3| Proverbs 23:18| Romans 15:13
Next, choose one or two that stand out to you and write them on your journal page. What is God saying to you through scripture and prayer about the hope He offers you?