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Seven-Day Practical Faith Blog: How Doubt and Faith Interact

Trust is a huge component of my teaching. In my first book, The Next Thing, one of the four elements of dealing with crisis is trusting in God and in those God sends to you. My latest book, From Comfort Zone to Trust Zone, emphasizes how to trust Jesus more and take risks on his behalf.

The Bible contains numerous verses that come down hard on doubters and urge us to trust. For example, James writes in James 1:6-7 (NIV):

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

We may all claim to have unshakable faith, but the dirty little truth is that, to some degree, we all have moments of doubt. After all, faith is not hoping for things seen, but unseen.

Mark Wingfield, executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global, has a useful comment on this interaction between doubt and faith:

An uninformed faith is no faith at all. What faith does it take to believe something you’re not willing to hold up to the light of scrutiny? That is blind certainty, not faith.

Just as doubt is both a noun and a verb, I think faith should cross over from solely a noun to a verb as well. That would help us understand it better. When faith is a noun, doubt makes us think we're losing our faith. We fear that our faith is eroding, diminishing, disappearing.

But if we think of faith as a verb, as something we do, the meaning changes. When we doubt, we are not "faithing" as much. Yet somehow, doubting helps our faithing, as Wingfield states, because we examine our faith (noun) and that gives us more security and reason to faith (verb).

A useful Bible passage is Mark 9: 17-24. I'll skip verses 18 and 19 in order to focus this discussion.

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech...So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The boy's father is right where most of us are: possessing both belief and unbelief. Faithing and doubting in some mixture. The core is belief, but there's a small amount of unbelief as well.

I believe the Holy Spirit is patient with us when we don't faith so well. In my times of doubting, the Spirit comes alongside me, reminding me of the reasons I believe, bringing up God's help in the past and promise of eternal life. Those moments of doubting actually empower my faithing after I have held my trust up to the light of scrutiny.

Let us work out our unbelief. Let us doubt in measure so we can faith in full.

When we faith in full, we're more willing to move out of comfort zones and take risks for the kingdom. My new book, "From Comfort Zone to Trust Zone: How Jesus Urges Us to Take Leaps of Faith for His Kingdom" was recently reviewed on Amazon by a person who wrote: "It helped me to discover the ways in which I wasn't trusting God and make a practical plan to help increase my faith." Find the same help when you order my book from or from Amazon or other online booksellers.

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