Tag Archives: doubt

Belief and Trust

“Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Luke 5:12b-13, NLT*

Imagine the fervent, desperate hope in the leper’s voice – in his heart.

There was no cure for the disease at the time, and Luke calls it an “advanced case.” He might have been missing fingers, toes… part of his nose.

He believes – he knows – Jesus can heal him.

So he asks. Luke says he begs. There’s no sense of entitlement here. He’s lost all that a long time ago.

Jesus touches him – touches a potentially contagious untouchable. And Jesus heals him. Instantly.

The man is now whole. Clean, as opposed to unclean. Once the priests confirm it, he can go back to his home, his family. He’ll even be happy to go back to work.

Two things stand out to me in this man’s example: his belief and his trust.

He has no doubt that Jesus has the power and authority to heal and cleanse him.

If You are willing” suggests that he knows not everyone who asks gets healed. Even if he doesn’t know that, we do.

Unbelief can cripple our prayers. Remember the father of the demon-possessed boy? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief”? (Mark 9:24, NLT*) But even believing prayers may be answered with a “no.” Remember how the Apostle Paul’s believing pleas for relief from his “thorn” were denied because it better served God’s Kingdom purposes for the thorn to remain. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

We need to pray “if You are willing, You can…” but we can’t let the “if” become doubt of God’s goodness.

In one sense, of course He’s willing – as in, He doesn’t want to see us hurting, and He loves us. But because He loves us so much, loves the whole planetful of us, sometimes His wisdom chooses to allow an unpleasant situation to continue, for the ultimate good – for us or for others.

“If You’re willing” must never become “If You’re good” or “If You love me” … or even “If I deserve it.” It simply means “You can, so I’m asking, but I don’t know Your full plan.” And we need to trust His heart, however He answers.

Almighty and all-wise God, Your plans and purposes are beyond our understanding, but You have clearly revealed Your heart in Jesus’ life and death. You’ve revealed Your power in His resurrection. If You are willing – if You choose – You can do anything. Forgive us for the times we doubt Your power, and for the times we doubt Your love. Help our unbelief. Teach us to trust You and to live and pray with confidence in Your care.

Trusting the God we know when we don’t know the details or the future… Here’s the Newsboys with “Lord (I Don’t Know)“. I’ve used this one as a prayer before.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Choosing to Trust God

In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:4, NIV*

Did you ever struggle with this verse? David repeats it twice in this psalm, so we know it’s important.

Maybe it’s my fiction-writer’s imagination. Maybe it’s some of the books I’ve read, or the news footage I’ve seen, but whenever I’ve seen the question “What can mere mortals do to me?” my mind started making a list.

We know that our fellow humans can do some terrible things. How could we not fear the worst-case scenarios? Sometimes God lets these things happen, even to His own.

I couldn’t believe this verse. Doubting left me feeling guilty.

This time through the psalm, God alerted me to the context of the verse. This is David writing, David who has been promised by God that he will be Israel’s next king.

At this point in David’s life, he’s on the run from the present king, Saul. Yes, David is afraid. Saul has a large, well-equipped army, and only wants one thing: David, dead.

But God has promised. Because of that, David can reassure himself. Clearly, Saul isn’t as strong as God, and God’s plans will be fulfilled. In light of that, what can mere mortals do to him?

The context liberates me, prompts me instead of doubting to consider: What has God promised me? Where is He directing me? What obstacles are blocking my path, where I can pray in confidence for God’s intervention in His best timing and in His own way?

Even without physical enemies, the “stuff” in life looms large, and pressures can hunt us like King Saul chased David. In our families, work and volunteer duties, home care, and many other areas—we can pray in confidence that, if we’re in God’s will, His purpose for us will be fulfilled. Now that I can believe, although at times it takes a spiritual battle to do so.

God who keeps His promises and whose purposes will be fulfilled, we praise and thank You for the privilege of being Your children and of living for Your glory. Forgive our doubts and stumbling, and remind us that Your plans for us are good. Help us see where we’ve accepted fear or defeat when You wanted us to take courage in Your strength. Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.

A good song to sing in prayer when we’re struggling with this is Matt Redman‘s “Never Once.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Is Your Loyalty Divided?

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you … But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty … should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:5-8, NLT* (emphasis mine)

Reading these verses in other translations, I always thought “do not waver” meant “don’t doubt” and it always left me a bit uncertain. Despite our best efforts, doubt can flicker in our prayers.

God knows that. Remember the father with the demon-possessed son? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NLT*)

The KJV uses “wavering” but the NIV actually says “you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave…” Both call the person “double minded.”

But this translation makes the real issue clear. Are we asking God for wisdom, leading, direction, but still holding onto worldly wisdom as a backup? No wonder it doesn’t work. If our loyalty is divided between God and the world, we’re sunk. (Click to tweet.)

That’s not to say God doesn’t want us to use our common sense, any more than He doesn’t want us to avail ourselves of doctors or other resources. But He does want us to look first to Him, to His power and His ways, and to go “all in” with what He says even if it’s counter-intuitive from a natural human perspective.

Remember His instruction for the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho? God’s way works, because He works.

The context in today’s verses is wisdom, but I think the loyalty—which worldview we espouse and obey, where we look for our strength and encouragement—underpins everything we do.

In this light, I can understand “double-minded” to be like the man serving two masters. Of course it won’t succeed. We need to trust. And to commit.

Holy and all-powerful God, help us to fully embrace You as our source of all help and resources. Grow our faith so we can trust and obey You—fully and completely.

This week’s song is a hymn I love: “Be Thou My Vision.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


I’m preparing a talk for the local library, on “Writing Personal Experience Stories People Want to Read.” Last Saturday when everyone else was out, I opened the file and did my first talk-through.

It was… less than stellar.

The outline needs a bit of tweaking, but the points are sound. The illustrations of said points need major fleshing out. Did I expect to pull them out of the air in front of an audience?

Seasoned public speakers are probably nodding and saying that’s why we practice–to see what’s wonky or missing while there’s time to fix it. That’s what I say about a first draft in writing. It’s no big deal. You can’t polish what isn’t written yet.

As I umm-ed and uh-ed through this first attempt, the negative feelings clustered nearer. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, that sinking sense of hopelessness and desperation….

Before, I’d have drawn those feelings close like a comforting blanket and accepted their lies.

This time, God showed me what was  happening and reminded me I can choose what to believe. And He helped me choose to believe Him.

In the clarity of deception-free sight, I saw what my trial run really showed me: where to strengthen the material, and where I needed illustrations. It wasn’t proof of inadequacy at all, just a step in the preparation process.

I could have accepted the lies and given up. Instead, I’m relying on the truth that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I can do this. I can fine-tune the outline and locate good examples for each point. Several have already come to mind.

Public speaking is a stretch for me, but I’ve done it before and lived to tell. Recognizing and deflecting the lies is also stretching me, and I’m so encouraged to see progress!



Fear and Lies

You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.”
Deuteronomy 1:27, NIV*

It seems we have a propensity for believing lies over the truth.

I’ve been working through the study material with Robert S. McGee’s book, Search for Significance. This week’s lesson included listing some of the lies the devil has told us. Identifying them is the first step in replacing them with truth.

With that in mind, Moses’ words above struck a chord. He’s referring to the people’s reaction to the spies’ report of the Promised Land, when instead of entering the land they ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years. (See Deuteronomy 1)

Wow. We’re not usually so open in articulating the issue, or at least I’m not. I’ll feel anxious or put upon, maybe discouraged or even resentful, and in the past I haven’t investigated the feeling’s origin to root out the lie.

You can hear the fear in the Israelites’ words. And there were indeed giants in them-thar hills. But instead of bringing their fear to God, remembering that He’s bigger, relying on His promises, they went the other way with it and accused Him.

We may be more subtle, but don’t we do the same? Too often we listen to the doubts and believe the lies instead of standing on the truth.

Holy and sovereign God in whom is no lie or shadow, if not for Your grace, patience and love, we’d be doomed. Teach us to recognize the enemy’s lies and to rely on Your word and Your character. Thank You for setting us free; now help us learn to live in that freedom and in confidence in You.

This week’s song is Casting Crowns’ “Voice of Truth.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Review: So Long Insecurity, by Beth Moore

So Long Insecurity, by Beth Moore (Tyndale House Publishers, 2010)

“Insecurity among women is epidemic, but it is not incurable. Don’t expect it to go away quietly, however. We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.” (p. xiii)

Drawing on her own experience and the responses of over 1,000 women (and men!), and using Scripture as a key weapon, Beth Moore has given us a book that equips us to change. So Long Insecurity is about empowering women to find their security in God.

One surprising point that comes up early in the book is the idea that it may not just be self-doubt that cripples us—we may be doubting God.

How? By doubting what He says about us. He says He loves us, and that He values us. But do we secretly think we know better, that if He really knew us completely He’d discover He’s been wrong?

The book exposes insecurity for what it is—a lie from the enemy of our souls—and takes a good look at the things that may have let it flourish in our lives.

There may be parts you relate to and parts you don’t, depending on your own personal experience. Insecurity manifests itself in various ways, and some women may be surprised to discover this is what’s been hindering them.

Prayer and Scripture form the basis of our defence against our individual default patterns of insecurity. One key verse is from Proverbs 31:25, where it declares “She is clothed with strength and dignity.”

Our God-given right to dignity—and our responsibility not to give that away when something threatens us—is central to maintaining our security. No, dignity is not something we can earn. It’s a gift from our God, and we need to hold it tight.

We also need to trust God. Beth says, “Whenever you get hit by a wave of insecurity, the wind driving it is always fear” (p. 320).She reminds us to consciously choose to trust God without conditions.

Not to say, “I’ll trust You as long as You don’t let my fear come true.” To decide that even if what we fear happens, we will trust Him to look after us.

If we must picture the worst-case scenario, we need to remember that God will be in it too. He won’t vanish in a puff of surprise and leave us fending for ourselves.

So Long Insecurity isn’t a quick-fix, one-time deal, because the triggers to insecurity are all around us. But it is a practical resource to help us reclaim our security and to arm us with what we need to guard ourselves.

I appreciated the solid reliance on Scripture, and the focus verses and short prayers that are perfect to write down and carry with us. There’s also a slightly longer prayer we can use each morning to keep our defences up.

Working through this book has changed me. I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m closer. And I have the tools to get there. Whether you’re deeply or only mildly insecure, or if you want to understand an insecure woman in your life, I recommend reading So Long Insecurity. Check out the first chapter of So Long Insecurity here.

Beth Moore is a popular Bible teacher and author. You can watch an interview with Beth Moore about So Long Insecurity here, or learn more about the book here. Or click here to visit the So Long Insecurity website.

[Book from my personal library—and while I may lend it to you, I want it back!]


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39, NIV*

God will never leave us, nor forsake us. He promised. Songs like Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go” and David Crowder’s “Never Let Go” help us internalize and respond to this amazing truth.

But sometimes, don’t you catch yourself wondering? Circumstances and the enemy of our souls whisper otherwise, and sometimes we listen: not me… not this time… not after what I did…

Our heads know the truth, but our hearts are prone to believe the lie.

Last week for the first time I really heard the lyrics to “Shadows,” from the David Crowder*Band’s Church Music CD, and something clicked in my spirit.

The price was too high for God to ever let us go. Jesus went to the Cross for us and defeated death. He’s not going to give up on us after that, no matter how troublesome we are.

Father, You knew what you were getting in the transaction, how stubborn and slow of heart we are, and You still loved us enough to pay a horrific price to rescue us. You’ve promised never to let go of us, and yet at times we doubt that. Forgive us, and help us to trust You and to stand amazed and secure “in the shadow of the Cross”.

Here  is a very cool video of “Shadows” from David Crowder*Band.  Take time to listen to the lyrics.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Without a Doubt

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James 1:5-8, NIV*

I used to think these verses meant I had to be sure I’d get what I asked from God. The kicker was, I wasn’t always sure what He wanted to give.

It’s clear from other parts of the Bible that we need to ask in keeping with God’s will. (We don’t even need to leave the Book of James to see this: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3, NIV)

Sometimes we have “how” or the “why” doubts, but James is talking about the “Who” doubts: about God’s character. It’s okay to be unsure of what to pray for, but we need to be sure of God. His character is revealed in Scripture and in our lives, and we need to remember and rely on it.

I have a friend whose cancer sounds terminal. Does God want to heal her, or to reward her with Heaven? I don’t know. But I can pray for God’s care in the details of her life, without any doubt in His love and provision for her.

The two men I’m praying for with depression/alcohol issues… Jesus came to set the captives free. I can be confident He wants to finish the job in their lives.

The people He’s placed on my heart who don’t know Him… God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and I know it’s His prompting that has me praying. He longs to adopt them as His own.

In the end, it’s all about God. The better we know Him, the easier it is to trust Him. He gives us the faith, but we need to walk in it.

Our song this week is Jeremy Camp‘s “Trust in You.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.