Living in the tension of faith, doubt

RELIGIOUS REFLECTIONS

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Pastor Tim Pettey

For this article I would like to share some insights using the S.O.A.P. method of Bible study and journaling.

I learned this tool from the writings of pastor and author Wayne Cordeiro and his Life Journal method of devotions. Here is a short explanation of S.O.A.P.

S stands for Scripture- Write out the verse or verses you choose from your daily Bible reading.

O stands for Observations- Write what you see in the scripture. Commands? Promises? Comfort? Correction?

A stands for Application- Write how you will be different today because of what you just read.

P stands for Prayer- Write out your prayer of response to God.

Here is an example:

Scripture: Mark 9:24 (NET Bible) “Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief.”

Observations: When Jesus came down from being transfigured, he was inundated by a crowd because the disciples had tried and failed to help a boy who was having seizures.

They took Jesus to where the boy was and Jesus began to question the boy’s father. The father asked for Jesus to show compassion, but Jesus pressed further on the man’s faith.

Finally the father declared his belief and at the same time declared his doubts.

Application: We often live in the tension of faith and doubt. This tension is a matter of both the mind and the heart. Our mind may believe that God can do something, but our heart may doubt that he will.

Our mind may doubt biblical or theological truth, while our heart believes deeply that God loves and protects us.

The tension of faith and doubt can revolve around our self-image — around our guilt and shame. We can believe there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1), but doubt that our past failures are truly forgiven because they seem so heinous.

The tension of faith and doubt can ebb and flow like the tides. When the tide comes in we are drowning in doubt; but when the tide goes out we see the shore with clear eyes of faith.

So what is the answer to this tension?

It is to immediately acknowledge it. Don’t try to reason your way out of it. Don’t try to deny your feelings of doubt.

Like the boy’s father, immediately acknowledge the tension, immediately declare your faith, and immediately cry out for help from Jesus.

The ability to live in the tension of faith and doubt is not found in our own strength; it comes from God.

Prayer: Abba, I believe. Help my unbelief. At times I live in the tension of faith and doubt. All the rational arguments I know and all my efforts to stir up a feeling in my heart are not the answer. You are the answer. So I seek your face. I cry out to you. I believe. Help my unbelief.

Pastor Tim Pettey ministers at Sunnyside First Baptist Church



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