The Certainty of Not Knowing
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rebecca Lynn Scalf. When Rebecca submitted this post, I told her my brain works in exactly the same way. If you struggle with doubt, this is for you!]
I’ve been troubled lately by my cynicism when I read through the Bible.
I read about Peter being rescued from prison by angels, and I think, “That’s a convenient cover story for a prison break.”
I read about Samson’s mother, barren and hopeless. An angel told her she would have a child. I wonder if maybe she made up the whole thing.
In my imagination it’s like a Hollywood plot line. In order to redeem her public standing with the women in town, she kidnapped a baby. She conjured a story about an angel and claimed the baby was hers. At the end of the movie, Child Protective Services had to step in to return Samson to his mother.
Really? How is that easier to believe than the account given in Judges 13?
I have been asking some questions to get an understanding of this attitude. Here’s what I’m wondering.
- What has happened inside me that causes me to poke holes in these wonderful stories of God’s love and power?
- Is this conspiracy theory attitude a sin against God, or is it just a natural thought process?
- Does having doubt mean that I have lost faith?
I’m going to work backward through these questions to try and understand what God has to teach me in this. First, I would like to point out that I am speaking of my personal experience. I do not claim to understand what kinds of doubts and issues others may have in their own faith.
Does doubt mean that I have lost faith? I have fairly quickly come to the conclusion, “No, it doesn’t.” My faith in God is still intact. My cynicism mostly shows up where people are involved.
Some would argue that since the Bible is the infallible Word of God, doubting its contents is the same as doubting God himself. To that, I would say….. “You might be right.”
Are cynicism and doubt sin? The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Jesus told those who came to him for help, “Your faith has healed you.” And when Thomas famously gets the proof that he asks for, Jesus tells him that those who believe without seeing are blessed.
However, when I look at how God responds to the doubts of Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Peter, and Thomas (just to name a few) I see compassion and patience. God again and again shows these doubters that he is the God of All Creation. Later some of these names even show up in Hebrews 11 which is fondly referred to as “The Hall of Faith.”
So, why am I having these doubts? One reason that I can see right away is pride. There are so many voices in my world that are saying my faith in God just serves to prove my ignorance. I’m a thinker. I even like to consider myself an intellectual. I do not like to be called ignorant. It hurts my pride.
If I dig a little deeper (maybe too deep) I also find a place in my heart that is motivated by self-preservation. I believe that God asks pretty big things of those who choose to follow him. When I sign on for this, I am in for more than I can handle. If I can poke holes in the stories of the people of the Bible, then somehow (in my overly logical subconscious) I might not have to listen to the intimidating calling that God has given me for my life.
When I come to the end of all this thinking and wondering, all I can really do is talk to God about it. I ask him to forgive me where my doubts have caused problems. I ask him to “Help me overcome my unbelief.” And I keep on asking him all my many questions as they arise.