What a pesky thing it can be for any and all of us! It would be lovely if we could say we never experienced doubt, but if we are totally honest none of us really can say that.
Doubts are those uncertainties that can send us spinning. They also can become snares that lead us astray.
When we are very young, doubt does not seem to be quite as much of an enemy. Unless something has occurred to create a question, we tend not to wonder whether or not to jump into daddy’s arms when he invites us to do so. We know he will catch us if he told us to jump.
Little by little doubts seem to grow unnoticed like weeds hidden in the grass at first. It can happen all at once, but often it is a gradual thing. It starts when something we believed in or trusted lets us down. It also happens, as we get a little bit older when we are tempted and the enemy whispers as he did to Eve that we will be okay if we yield.
Like some of you, I somehow grew up with what seemed to be a fair number of uncertainties. They seemed to crop up in all kinds of places.
Much of it came from nagging doubts about whether or not I was loved, accepted, and valued if I was less than perfect (and I was). As these questions evolved into a belief that I wasn’t or might not be, questions and doubts seemed to multiply.
Despite my efforts to defeat these enemies, they clung to me into adulthood even though I had first accepted Jesus when I was 12.
A common little example was when I would plan to meet someone for coffee or lunch. If they were late, I would start to question if they were really coming or if they had someone they preferred to spend time with. I wondered if I mattered to them and if left unchecked, my insecurity grew.
When we don’t understand something, it can be easier to doubt. If we don’t really know someone, it can be easier to doubt.
Add to that our own filters about ourselves and soon we are slipping down a rabbit hole we cannot seem to get out of.
The truth is that the more I know and understand about myself or another person, the easier it is to defeat doubt and uncertainty about the relationship.
If I am waiting on a friend that I know well, I will know if they are late there is a good reason because it is unlike them; or I will know if they are late that it is common for them to be late because they are late for nearly everything and everyone! In both cases, I accept it is not about me.
These things can help us experience relationships that are not hampered by needless doubting.
The biggest challenges come in our relationship with the Lord. If our prayers don’t seem to be answered, or answered as we desire, it can be easier to doubt, lose faith, and question. When bad things happen despite all our efforts to be good, do the right thing, or be the right person, we can fall prey to questions in our heart even if our head knows that bad things can happen to anyone.
I am not sure that in this life we can totally escape all doubts, but I do believe we can do much to defeat them by growing in our understanding and knowledge of others. It helps us to make wiser choices about relationships and which ones are healthy and trustworthy.
Most important of all is to grow in our understanding and knowledge of the Lord.
At 12, I accepted Jesus into my heart, but I didn’t really know Him very well and didn’t expend time to grow in my knowledge and understanding so my footing was unsure and doubts could more easily assail my mind and heart.
Getting to know someone, getting to know the Lord, takes intentional time spent with them observing what they do, how they do it, what motivates them, and what they care about.
I can hear a lot about someone, which can give me a sense of the person, but unless or until I spend time with him or her myself, I will never really know him or her nor trust and understand him or her at a significant level. That will make me vulnerable to doubt.
It’s also true I can hear a lot about the Lord from great preaching and teaching or hearing others share their testimony, but if I don’t spend time with Him coming to know His heart I will fall prey to doubt.
Because I am finite and He is infinite there are things I will never be able to fully understand about Him. But if I spend time seeking to know Him, know His heart, and not just learn more about Him, doubt will be defeated more easily as I rest in the certainty of His love and care, His goodness and grace.