January 2, 2014: Doubts and Questions

~by Louis Templeman

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? Psalm 13:1

Questioning our faith can actually lead us into a deeper relationship with God. The same questions haunt all of us. Why do the wicked prosper? Where was God when I needed him? Why do the innocent suffer?

Abraham had no trouble expressing his doubts and questions to God. Yet, Scripture says Abraham was made righteous by his faith. In fact his faith is the historic bedrock of three of the world’s great religions. Sometimes our questions and even our doubts are actually rooted in our faith. To have faith is to have struggles.

O Lord God, what will you give me for I continue childless . . .? O Lord God, how am I to know (you will keep your promises)? Genesis 15: 2, 8.

In spite of all his excellent faith Abraham also carried the burden of maddening doubts, which he willingly expressed. We, who struggle in our journey, should take comfort in this very human father of the faith. He believed God. He trusted God. He obeyed God even to the point of departing his prosperous city life and becoming a nomadic herdsman far from home. Yet, as he journeyed in faith he was able to voice his questions and doubts.

Too often our patience wears out. We need to embrace the proverb, “In patience possess your soul.” It is better to ask the question than to stew over them and become bitter.

The very act of asking questions, of voicing your doubts can mean you believe. You believe someone is listening. Someone is taking your calls. So patience is a medicine to keep you holding on.

Praise is another medicine. O my God, I cry by day but you do not answer, and by night but find no rest. Yet, you are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel, (Psalm 22: 2, 3). The psalmist who wrote this gives us a key to possessing our souls. It worked for the psalmist. Go to God in your disappointments and confusion and praise him.

In the face of questions, cries, bewilderment and doubt give praise to God. Suffering is potentially a rich time of hope and promise. It is the dark that gives birth to the sunrise. As Jesus was perfectly doing God’s will, yet dying and facing failure as the Romans were executing him on the cross he cried out, Into your hands I commit my spirit, (Luke 23: 46).

Honoring God with our praises is always a good thing to do. It is this love that covers my sins. It is this act of faith (even when faith feels foolish) that keeps us healthy.

Questions and doubts often accompany our faith journey. Patience and praise will transform them into power to receive his promises as time unfolds. Dan Schutte (inspired by St. John of the Cross) once wrote:

Holy darkness, blessed night, heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.

As we await you O God of silence, we embrace your holy night.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that Jesus did not say, Come follow me, it is really easy. No he promised there was a cross (an instrument of execution) involved. But, he never said it would not be worth it.

~Louis Templeman

Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D.

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