When you are up doubt creek without a paddle

boats

Doubt can feel like being caught in the water with no way to steer.

Have you ever doubted?  I mean, really, really, doubted.

Doubt is when you find yourself in a place between what you confidentially know and what has not yet been revealed.  We can have doubts about people, situations, experiences and knowledge.

Doubt can be paralyzing.  When coupled with fear, doubt can stand in the ways of decisions we need to make.

We can have doubts in families, relationships, work, careers,  schools, friendships and life experiences.  We can even have doubts about God and what God is up to in our lives. And, yes, God is big enough to handle all of your doubts and questions.

So,  then, what do we do about doubt — especially the doubt we experience in our relationship with God?

The Bible’s Book of James includes some words of wisdom on the issue of doubt.

Most scholarly research points to the writer of James as “James” — the half-brother of Jesus.  Can you imagine the doubts you would have had when Mary and Joseph told you that your brother was the Son of God?

Whatever his doubts, James became convinced of Jesus, believed and became a leader in the early church.  His work in the Book of James gives us some practical advice on faith (and doubt).  We find it in James 1:2-7.  Here is what is says:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 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.  (NIV)

There’s so much going on in those few verses, but it does give us a framework to follow:

  • Hold  on to joy no matter what you face.  Happiness is more about a feeling in the moment.  Joy is much deeper — it’s a mindset.  Joy is based in hope — the confidence that God is going to do what God said he would do.
  • Faith is about making it through.  Faith, our belief in God and God’s promises even without seeing them, is about helping us to endure the situations that we face and walk through.  For God, it’s not about getting caught up in the “why” and “how” questions. It’s all about when — when this situation is completed.
  • Perseverance leads to maturity.  This might be the part that we don’t want to hear, but what if it is only at the end of this journey that we reach full maturity?  In other words, life is about a long, continuous journey in faith.
  • God is the source of wisdom.  It’s not about bias and alternative facts when it comes to wisdom. Wisdom comes from God and we get it by asking for it.
  • Doubt is an obstacle to wisdom.  Doubt is not the opposite of faith.  In fact, it’s  more of an obstacle to truly understanding the wisdom that comes from God. Doubt is what comes in the middle between what we know and what we don’t know. It’s the gap between where we are and where we are going.  Doubt must be navigated to achieve wisdom.

There’s one image that sticks out in that passage when it comes to this issue of doubt.  James describes doubt as a wave at sea being tossed about by the water and the wind.

I’m going to take a little liberty with this image.  Think for a moment that you are in a small boat in the middle of a choppy sea.  You are battling with your rudder (or paddle) to get to the shore, but the waves and the wind are tossing you about.

Nothing that you do on your own seems to be helping.  In fact, your efforts might actually make your situation more dire than it was before.

It’s when we let go, when we endure and make it through, that we get the opportunity to see what God has been doing all along.

It’s desperate and out of control with no help in sight and you doubt that you will make it through.  It’s as if at this point, James is pointing to the option you might not have considered:  You must take your hand off of the rudder and hold on to the boat.

That seemingly defies logic.  Stop your effort and simply endure.  But this really isn’t about waves, is it?

When we are willing to stop doing it our way, when we get past trying to be the hero to solve our own problems, when we give it up to God, our entire situation changes.

It’s when we let go, when we endure and make it through, that we get the opportunity to see what God has been doing all along.

Yet, I, and maybe you, struggle to let go in the middle of messy situations.  The world says you have to do this own your own.  Your own ego says you need to solve the problem. What if all you are doing is simply paddling in circles?  What if you are making the problem worse?

What if you just need to let go, to loosen your grip and let God guide us through this storm?

Doubt puts us up the creek without a paddle.  Yet, that’s the very place we need to be to let God shine through.


ReigniteMyStory.com is based on the idea that every life story can be reignited when we reset it, renew it and redeem it.  You can contact me with ideas, questions or suggestions at reignitemystory@gmail.com or by following me on Twitter at @reignitemystory.

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One Response to When you are up doubt creek without a paddle

  1. Pingback: When you are up doubt creek without a paddle | Reignite My Story | The Savage State

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