Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'"
A.W. Tozer once said, "The most important thing about a man is what comes into his mind when he thinks of God."
That's the word that immediately entered into my mind. It kind of took me by surprise. I was hoping to brush past the question. God wouldn't have it.
I have never heard the audible voice of God but I have in many other ways heard Him speak to me. There is a song called "King of My Heart" and it says, "You are good, You are good, You're never gonna let me down." I was singing this to God and as soon as it left my lips I felt Him say, "You don't believe that about Me." God was right. I struggled to believe that He would never let me down. In fact, I was waiting around for him to do just that.
Suspicion manifests itself in different ways:
"Did God really say....?"
"Is the Bible really true? and relevant?"
"I know God promised this, but did He really promise it to me?"
"I remember this moment where God said ______, but maybe I misheard Him."
"Maybe this is all in my head."
My suspicion of God reveals my lack of trust in Him. After all, distrust is at the heart of suspicion. I don't only doubt what He says. Sometimes I doubt if it's Him who said it or just my own mind playing tricks on me. But it has not always been this way. This season has lasted a little over a year and although I know it will find its wintery end, I'm currently stuck in the heat of it.
It is exhausting to be suspicious of the One I am building my life on. But if God is the God of the Bible I know He is big enough to withstand my questions. I journaled a while back, "I used to read God's word hoping it was true. Over time, however, it became Truth to me. His word is alive and can withstand your questions." Funny how a few years later I'm having to learn that lesson again.
God can handle my mustard seed faith and he can handle yours. Though our faith be tiny, when placed in the right person it is unshakeable. I can have all of the faith in the world that a broken chair will support my weight. I can be sure of it. But the bottom line remains that if the chair is broken it won't hold me.
Likewise, I can have a tiny, microscopic amount of faith in Jesus. And if He is real and true, He'll still hold me. His faithfulness does not depend on the measure of my faith. Small faith in a true and big God is enough because it is not the measure of our faith that saves us but the God we place our faith in. Priscilla Shirer said, "I don't need more faith. I need a more comprehensive and accurate view of the faithfulness of my God. When we are faithless, He is faithful (2 Tim. 2:13)." Tim Keller put it this way, "It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you."
Ultimately, my faith (or lack there of) in the chair has no impact on the chair's ability to hold me but it has everything to do with my willingness to sit down in it. My lack of faith affects me. It torments me. It hinders me. God has the ability to work miracles in my life and in the lives of those around me. My doubt prevents me from experiencing God's activity, but it does not affect his ability to do it. And while it may grieve God's heart because he longs to see me walk in trust, it does not so much as shake Him. He cannot be moved.
Let's look to the life of Jesus as an example. In Matthew 13, Jesus is in His hometown of Nazareth. He has been teaching and preaching in surrounding synagogues but the people here respond differently than many others did. They are suspicious of Him:
"Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" In other words: "Hey, we know this guy. We were around when he grew up. We know his mom and dad and his siblings. There is no way this guy is the Messiah! He is Jesus, the carpenter's son!"
Jesus' response? "And he did not do mighty works there, because of their unbelief." It was not Jesus' lack of ability that prevented the mighty works. We know He was more than able. It was the peoples' unbelief. Jesus' power never changed.
My belief in Jesus does not affect His ability but it can affect His willingness.
In a practical sense, it often feels like I have just enough faith to get started but not enough to keep going. It's like a road trip where I'm only given enough gas for each day and I have to drive, all the while trusting the next day's worth of fuel will come. But I kind of think that's the point.
We each have the measure of faith God assigned to us. Rather than begging Him for more (I've tried that) I am currently trying to be faithful with what I have. Tim Keller says, "Doubt your doubts." I'm trying to dwell less on my doubt and more on Jesus.
The Apostle Paul says, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Here is my rough paraphrase: "Countless times I pleaded with the Lord about my struggle, that my doubts should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your doubts.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my doubts so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with my doubts, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
God personally spoke to me through His word regarding my doubt. It was balm to my soul. He turned my doubt, something which produced great internal shame, into an instrument that could glorify Him and strengthen His power in me. What Satan intended for evil, God is using for good.
I remember asking God, "How am I supposed to boast in this? What does that look like?" For me, it is to write and talk about it. Doubt may be a little taboo but I say it's okay to have questions. Just take them to Jesus and trust Him with the answers, even if He seems silent for a while. Do not let your doubt fester into unbelief and don't elevate your own mind above God's.
I long for the day when my faith does not have to wrestle with my sight. The wrestling is more often than not painful. One day though, I will see Jesus face to face and my faith shall be made sight. Until then, I will sit amidst the tension of faith in the unseen.