Tag Archives: doubt

A Poem on Faith & Doubt

I wrote this little poem several years ago, based upon James 1:6, a passage from Scripture. I have always struggled with doubt–in God, myself, in other people. Over the years, my doubts have been met and transformed by truth. I am discovering that doubt is only a barrier if you allow it to be. Doubt, when accepted as a path, can lead one to new places and deeper understanding. Ultimately, I believe holding God’s hand on this path leads not to annihilation of relationship, but a greater capacity for it. Allowing doubt to be helpful requires faith, rather than the denial of it.

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“Uproot and plant yourself in the sea,” said the man of mustard seeds. “You’ve held belief in small things, but greater yet is what will be.”

The mulberry tree duly replied, “Surely my roots will never be dry. The fishes will dance among my leaves, for your faith, I’ll do as you please.”

Another man out and lost at sea, drowning in doubt with prayerful pleas. But oh, how should you receive? Marked with doubt, anxiety.

Faithless man, take hold the seed.

Old Poem 

I wrote this poem years ago, but its words still touch my heart. I have only ever shared it with a limited audience, for fear of it being silly or clumsy or misunderstood. In my pursuit of living a more creative life now, however, I am choosing to share my creative efforts with no thought of the reception it may or may not receive.

So without further ado, here is the old poem I found buried in the heap of my creative past.

I remember as a child sitting in the backseat with a story being read to me, about a girl all alone in the jungle who was afraid.

Just like me.

Well, not exactly–I mean I grew up in suburbia and for a while backwoods country.

But God, it seemed like life was like that scary jungle scene; where every corner, every branch held uncertainty, like something was going to happen, like something was going to hurt me.

But the girl in that story said something that stuck out to me, repeating ever so softly,
“God is with me, always with me. I am safe, always safe.”

And it was in the backseat of that car on that warm summer’s night, driving from Seattle on that stretch of 405, that I came to a conclusion in my childish mind, that if I just spoke those trusting words, everything would be just fine.

Though over time, I found these words to be only half-right.

God is with me, He’s always with me. but I am not always so safe.

Does this mean He loves me less?
Does this mean He’s forgotten me?

Somehow we’ve come to believe that following that still small voice gives us some sort of invincibility, a special  protection, that if it’s His will, things will work out perfectly.

But if that’s the case, why hasn’t that come through for me?

If that’s how God works, then why are my brothers and sisters suffering for advancing a kingdom He’s building?

Yet when I flip through the pages of that old book that still breathes life, I see God has never been too concerned with us leading safe, comfortable, predictable lives.

But I still don’t pretend to understand why You allow certain things to happen, and I can’t help but ask so many questions.

There’s really no resolve here, but to keep trusting in You;  for perhaps the body You do not always keep so safe, but as for my soul You always do. And I can rest knowing that no matter the circumstance, You bring about Your redemptive plan.

You promise to wipe every tear from our eyes?

Okay then, I’ll let them fall freely so I have nothing to hide, for I know one day all wrongs will be made right, and we will finally see the “whys” behind this life.

But maybe by then we won’t need the answers, as to why our loved ones died of cancer, or why our sons and daughters are bought and sold like they don’t matter.

All I can say for now, is that I’ll keep listening for Your voice to break through my clouds.

Bad Believer

I’ve struggled in my Christian faith. I’ve doubted, backslid, crawled forward, and failed. Growing up, I would recite the sinner’s prayer every day, just to “make sure” I was really saved. While away at college (a Bible college, mind you) I nearly walked away from the faith completely. But by God’s grace, I shakily remain His.

When I am alone with God, I feel secure in my relationship with Him. Being around His other kids is what trips me up. I compare myself to other Christians, deciding that God must like them better because they seem happier, more faithful, or better than me. I am in therapy and swear like a sailor when I am angry. I laugh at double-entendres, vote Democrat, and am a proud feminist. I am not an ideal Proverbs 31 Woman.

But Jesus loves me, this I know.

He knows my heart. He sees my efforts to change, and He knows I try to follow Him each day, in every area of my life. He didn’t make me His to be like other Christians. I follow Jesus, not religiosity! Though I may feel like I am on shaky ground in my faith, the truth is, I can’t lose Him. And He can’t lose me. His word confirms and promises this:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8: 35-39

What can separate me from the love of Christ? N O T H I N G.

Shame may tell me that I am not good enough, and that’s true. But that was never the point. I am being saved as much as I am saved, and it’s a life-long process. God is far more patient than I am with myself, and the only thing that keeps Him distant is me. When I choose shame over grace, I push Him away.

I’ve always related to the disciple Thomas–infamously known as Doubting Thomas. Growing up in church, Thomas was often made an example of how we shouldn’t be as believers. But he always gave me hope, because even though he was one of Jesus’ most intimate friends, he still struggled with doubt. He could have allowed shame and doubt to destroy his faith, but he didn’t. Instead he cried, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” And as Flannery O’Connor once wrote, that is “…the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.”

I used to be afraid of my doubts, but I’m not anymore. Doubting has caused me to explore the faith, to make it truly my own. A fear of doubt shows a lack of faith that God can withstand questions and apparent contradictions. Some people are so afraid to acknowledge their doubts because they are afraid of what they may discover. I think we’re all afraid of being bad believers, but the truth is, He doesn’t see it that way.

If prostitutes, murders, thieves, doubters, and the ordinary can be celebrated in the family of God, that gives us all hope! Doubt doesn’t exile us from God, nor do our sins. We can boldly and confidently approach Him as we are, because forgiveness and acceptance is assured.

So whether you’re rough around the edges, or plagued with doubt, you are still His. There’s such a comfort for us in the consistency and faithfulness of God. We don’t need to waste time comparing ourselves to each other, or being afraid of what our doubts reveal about us.

Let’s all give each other freedom to pursue Him as we are, and leave all the judgment to Him.