I am dealing with some doubt in my life right now. I am doubting many things that I was so sure of before. I know it is the devil getting to me, but he is a sneaky little joker and I let him slide right in. I was praying about my doubt, asking God to help me remove it and replace it with truth. I asked him to give me scripture to meditate on so I could bounce my thoughts from the doubt. I opened my Bible to Hebrews because there was some scripture I read last week that I wanted to revisit. I thought it might help me deal with my doubt. I instantly started looking at the scripture I had highlighted and underlined in my Bible. While I didn’t find the scripture I was looking for, I found many more. I would read one and think, “yeah, this is good.” But the next one I would read was even better. God didn’t give a scripture to help me with my doubt. He gave me many scriptures. He nearly gave me a whole book of the Bible. When I look at how He answers this simple prayer, how can I doubt? When I look at how He talks to me personally? How he answers thoughts I have never even verbalized, how can I doubt? How do I chose to listen to a lying cheat over my loving Father?
Even as I type this, I am baffled by my ignorance. I would like to think that I am not the only one. That many of you are dealing with doubt out there. Doubt that you are a good enough parent, doubt that you are good enough to work for God, doubt that you are listening to God and following His will. And I don’t know if you are like me, but with my doubt, if I let one little tiny doubtful thought trickle into my head, the rushing waters of confusion begin to toss me all around.
So what do we do? How to we gain our bearings again? How do we stop those voices of doubt in the first place or cut them off the moment they start whispering in our ear? Here are some actions we can do to drive away doubt.
1) Recognize we cannot do it.
When I am doubting, I don’t ever doubt God. The person I am doubting is me. And let’s face it, I have good reason to doubt me. I have a history full of mistakes, over-reactions, jumping to conclusions, and down right sin. Many times I probably should have doubted myself and didn’t and then I ended up with regrets. Doubt in myself is warranted. But I am not called to do any of this alone. God calls me to be his tool.
Think about it. When we were building our house, I didn’t have faith in the tools. I had faith in those men running the tools. They were the ones capable of getting it right and completing the job. The tools could not work by themselves. The same is true for us. We have to have God as our operator. Now, those tools may break or be unreliable at times and totally slow the process of the job. Sadly, this is also true for us. Sometimes, God can’t count on us. Sometimes we are unreliable and slow the progress of the job. Those times usually come when we have the focus on ourselves and not on our operator. When we focus on God and following his guidance – no questions asked – then we operate a whole lot better.
In Hebrews (where I will be staying today because that is where God led me), it says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (10:22). When we have a true heart, when we are doing things for the right reasons, when we genuinely want to serve God, we can have full assurance that He will take care of us. He will lead us. He will act on our behalf. We don’t have to worry about whether we are smart enough, strong enough or good enough to do the job. He will do it for us. When we doubt, just remember, we are not doing it. He is working through us. We are just His tool.
2) Rest on His promises.
Like I said earlier, many times I doubt God, knowing full well that He has provided for me many many times in the past. When I start to sense those feelings of doubt creeping in, instead of entertaining them in my head – like we often do – I need to stop and list all the ways He has been faithful to me in the past, all the moments He was there and I didn’t even recognize it.
I remember hearing a message by Charles Stanley, and I forget the main point of his message, but I remember he said to remind God of all the times in the Bible that he has been faithful. He said start from the beginning and just remind Him of all the times you can remember God proving Himself. From Adam and Eve, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob – and I am not out of Genesis yet. See, when I tried this myself, a funny thing happened. I didn’t remind God of anything (I’m sure wise ol’ Charles knew that would happen), but I reminded myself of EVERYTHING – everything God had done from the beginning of history to prove He is God. It did wonders for my doubt.
But we can do the same things in our own lives. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Take time to list all the ways God allowed you NOT to be shaken. All the ways he protected, provided, and proved He was who He says He is. Maybe even write them down, read over them periodically, and add to the list when He has done it again.
When you feel doubt start to creep in, go to that list and read through it. Remind yourself of all the ways He has taken care of you and kept His promises.
3) Keep a prayer journal.
I keep a prayer journal, but not for the reason I am about to mention. I keep a prayer journal to keep me focused. My mind is a wandering place and if I write my prayers, then I stay focused on the purpose at hand. But there are many benefits to a prayer journal. The journal also acts as a reminder of God’s provision. After keeping a prayer journal for a while, you can read back through your prayers and see the way God answered many of them. We can see times when we worried about silly things only to realize God already had them worked out. We can see times where He miraculously solved a problem. We can even see times when maybe our own sin was the problem and God gracefully showed us through. We can pour our doubt out on the page, only to see the way He proves it pointless.
I have a friend who shares a testimony involving her prayer journal. She had experienced two miscarriages and on a specific day she begged God to reveal to her some answers. She wasn’t sure if she and her husband should keep trying or if another child was not in God’s plan for them. Some time later she was reading back through her journal and started noticing the dates. When she specifically prayed to God about having another child, she was actually pregnant and hadn’t discovered it yet.
Now, she has those moments recorded in her prayer journal and can forever rest on God and the way he beautifully answered her prayers. I am sure she will forget, like the rest of us, but reading back over our prayer journal can offer some amazingly reassuring moments in our times of doubt. We are reminded again in Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). We know that from reading the Bible, but that promise and truth can also be revealed on a personal level when we read back over our prayer journals.
4) Hold on to scripture – literally.
My mind is a busy, busy place and thoughts roll in and out faster than trains at Grand Central Station. I would like to think most women feel like that. I hope it is obvious that scripture is something I am constantly reading, but even with my time spent in scripture, many times it is not in my heart and head the way I need it to be. Those fleshly thoughts seem to fight for front and center, while the scripture gets pushed to the back row. So I do several things to help scripture stay front and center for me.
First, I keep it with me in several ways. Many of my work spaces (school and home) are surrounded by scripture. I keep it posted in places that I will notice over and over. When we moved into our house, my goal was to have scripture posted in every room of the house. I have a few rooms I am still working on, but many rooms boast those powerful words. But probably the biggest thing for me is my planner. I bought a faith based planner that has scripture throughout, but I also am constantly adding scripture to the extra spaces and margins. I also bought faith based stickers to add to my agenda. I live and die by my planner and to see scripture all throughout, reminding me at times when my mind is far away, is priceless.
Second, I also frequently use the Bible app on my phone. I can search out scripture at any moment. I can just read through verses when I need some sanity. I can research a topic if I need to. But knowing that the scripture is always at my fingertips is comforting.
Also, I wonder if anyone else does this… Sometimes I will be in the middle of a situation and just feel a little overwhelmed or at the end of the day I am all worked up and anxious – probably because I am doubting many things. But one of the things that comforts me is scrolling through Pinterest. Now, wait and hear me out. I have a “Word” board full of scripture and faith based thoughts and blogs. In those moments of stress and doubt, I will just scroll through scripture after scripture. All of these scriptures spoke to me at some point and provide peace and calm now. They help me refocus. Also, I often find a blog I pinned but didn’t slow down to read and it was just what I needed for the moment. Many days having an electronic suitcase of comforting scripture and messages is just what I need to squish my doubt.
5) Repeat as needed.
Let’s be honest. We all get distracted, over-confident, or worn out, even when we set out with the best intentions. I will write this blog post today, feel great, and two weeks from now, if I let my guard down, doubt will come flooding back in. I will have to start the process over. But, at least I have a process to start over and grace that allows me to. So remember we can’t do it alone. And when we are working for God, there is no reason to doubt because he has proved many times before that he can do it. Look back over that list you created of all the ways he proved faithful in you life. Add to the list as a way to eliminate doubt. Read back over your prayer journal. Go through and mark all the prayers He has answered since you last read through. Add to the prayer journal asking God to help you overcome your doubt (I mean, that is where this post came from. I actually had a different topic already outlined). And always, always go to scripture. Find a verse or verses that speak to you at that moment. Write them down. Stick them somewhere you will see them over and over. Put them as the home screen on your phone. Do what you need to do to put them in your heart and mind so that you can focus on those instead of the doubt that will try to come rolling in.
Hebrews 6:10 tells us, “For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” Doesn’t that make you feel so much better? Isn’t that a great explanation of grace? Of course we mess up and sin and allow doubt to cloud our vision. But God sees our heart. He sees that we are working for him, that we are serving for him. He sees that we are doing our best to show love to others. He sees the work we are doing and if we go to Him in those times of doubts, He will provide just what we need to refocus. I know He did for me.