Not too long ago, I struggled with a Monday morning doubt session. Are you familiar with those at all? I don’t have them often, and I don’t consider myself a doubting kinda guy. There are just times throughout the rhythm of life when doubts mount a full-on advance against my feeble mind and heart.
Doubt sessions don’t have to happen on Monday mornings. They could be Thursday evenings or Sunday afternoons. They’re simply a momentary season of doubt. I’ll describe mine, and maybe it’ll make more sense.
I’ll feel a general sense of uncertainty. I’ll question a lot of things. About God. About myself. I’ll be indecisive and hesitant to make any decision. Confused is a good descriptor. You know how it feels to be trapped…like there just isn’t a good answer…or you’re all out of solutions… it’s kinda like that, too. Emotions are wacky and all over the place, really. At times, fear arrives and plays a role in the doubt session, and he brings along uneasiness, producing a lack of confidence. Trust begins to feel foreign. It’s almost like I can’t see to navigate life. It makes me doubt who I am, what I’m doing, and if I’m doing the right things. I’ll doubt what God has already said about me.
Sounds crazy for a guy who’s followed Jesus for 34 years, doesn’t it? Maybe you’re asking yourself what I ask myself…
“How in the world can a believer of 34 years still have doubts? There must be something wrong with him/me!”
Honestly, I don’t think anything is wrong with me. I’m human. And that makes me wonder…makes me curious…if times like these are part of the ebb and flow of life, what do we do when they come? It’s an excellent question to explore.
At this point, I could launch into the one disciple everyone recognizes as the doubter. “Doubting Thomas”. But I’m not. The only thing I’ll say about Thomas is this – I’m convinced Jesus is okay with seasons of doubt. Just look at the story of Thomas. What Jesus isn’t okay with is us remaining in the season of doubt.
And that, my friends, is the focus of the rest of the post.
Matthew’s gospel details the exchange of words between Jesus and His disciples when He asked them what the word on the street was about Himself. Of course, a variety of speculations and postulations floated about. But it was Peter’s answer that received the focus of the text. Matthew writes…
Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “Matthew 16:13-17
Flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to Peter, Jesus says. Instead, it was God who revealed it to Peter. It was a moment of insight for Peter. A revelation. God revealed to Peter truth, specifically, the truth about Jesus.
Later in the narrative, Peter does the opposite! Shortly after cutting off a guard’s ear to defend Jesus, Peter denies knowing Jesus. Three times! The great truth revealed was seemingly lost within Peter. But the story isn’t over.
John records in his gospel a breakfast with Jesus and what we can call the restoration of Peter.
Now when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was hurt because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” John 21:15-17
One thing I note. One thing I see. What God revealed to Peter makes a significant difference in the story. I wonder if Peter’s mind returned to that moment of insight…if he recalled the truth that was revealed to him? I believe it did. Peter could stand on a foundation built by what God had revealed to him. God was real, and He was standing right there with them – both when Peter received the insight and when Peter was restored.
Those insights, those revelations, those truths, are foundational. They are blocks laid in the foundation we stand on, building on each other.
You see, these are foundational for me. Truths God has revealed to me. From the very truth about the person and purpose of Jesus to being called to leave what I called a secure job and enter full-time ministry and everything in between. God revealed those to me.
Why’s that important? When I stand on what God has revealed, the enemy has a harder time getting me out of the truth. It’s super difficult for him to keep me in those doubt sessions. The reason is already been stated, but I’ll repeat it. Satan would rather get me out of step with God than keep me in. And he’ll do whatever he can to disrupt. And yes, that includes doubt.
This is why we must remind ourselves what God has revealed as truth. It’s those truths we stand on…not what we feel on a Monday morning.
Those truths are like bubbles for a scuba diver. When they get so deep in the water and darkness surrounds them, it’s almost impossible for them to keep from becoming unsettled and disoriented. Thinking about that fills me with fear, and I’m not even underwater! Imagine being surrounded by so much darkness that you can’t see your hand in front of you. Which way is up? Which way is down? Which direction should I go? I’m confused and doubting my own instincts. Sounds sorta like a doubt session.
Scuba divers do one thing that makes the difference. One thing that helps them navigate those times in the deep dark.
They feel for the bubbles.
When they don’t know which way to go, they reach up with their hands and feel for the bubbles. Bubbles will always drift to the surface. Bubbles always rise up. And that gives them direction.
When you and I doubt. When you and I can’t trust our feelings. When we’re confused and can’t discern. When we’re uncertain about, well, anything and everything. When we’re afraid and can’t navigate. Feel for the bubbles.
For us, it’s reaching out our hands and grabbing hold of the truths about God and what He has revealed to us about Himself and about who He says we are. Those truths are our bubbles. They always lead us to the surface, where the light is shining! Revealed truths, when we recall them to memory, will lead us when disoriented. They loosen Satan’s hold that keeps us in the deep dark.
Those revealed truths keep me where I need to be. They anchor me, hold me, and are foundational to me. When doubt sessions come, I go back to what I know, what revelations God has given me, from the truth about His Son to who He wants me to be. It’s why I love journaling so much. Yeah, I know, not everyone likes to write. But might I just encourage something simple and easy? Journaling acts like a time machine, allowing me to go back and remind myself of what God has revealed to me.
Those entries, those God moments when God revealed truth to me, are my bubbles. Here’s an example.
I know God revealed to me I can write and teach. I know God revealed to me ministry to others. And I know God revealed to me who I am in Jesus Christ. I’m a son of the Most High. A co-heir with Christ. I’m in the vine, a branch, producing fruit for Him.
What are your bubbles
It’s an excellent question to consider as we close our time together. What are those truths that God has revealed to you? Maybe you don’t need to journal everything. Perhaps you simply need to write down those foundational blocks, the truths that God has revealed to you, and put them in a place often seen by you. Maybe that’s the bathroom mirror or the coffee maker in the morning. It could be the lock screen or wallpaper on your phone. Notes in a lunch box.
I think you get the idea.
Here’s my encouragement. Reach out and feel the bubbles. Remind yourself of those truths. Put down the things God has revealed, like foundation blocks, and stand on them. Stand on the truth. Don’t let Satan shake you from who God already says you are and what God has revealed. They are your foundation.
I’ll leave you with Paul’s words from Ephesians.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
You are loved!