Thursday, August 8, 2013

8 Steps to Dealing with Doubt

Your phone buzzes in your pocket and as you pull it out and begin reading the text, you instantly drop it on the ground because you weren't prepared for a message like that... Your boss calls you into his office and lets you know you have 2 weeks of employment left...  Your spouse walks in the front door of your house and tells you they are through... The Doctor walks into the waiting room and says, "I have bad news..."

At moments like this, when the unthinkable happens, trust can quickly turn into doubt and your confidence can be forever shaken.

Doubt, however, is not a lack of trust.  The essence of doubt is being caught between two extremes--peace and fear, hope and hopelessness--and pulled in opposite directions in your spirit.  This spiritual tug-of-war tests our strength as our circumstances take an all-out assault our faith.  Feeling powerless and without hope, we tend to surrender to our fear, which grows like a vine from the root of our doubt.

Doubt is a reality in our life.  So the question is, how do we deal with doubt?  Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Admit Your Doubts & Tap Into God's Power to Overcome Them

When we admit that we have doubts, it doesn't make us seem weak, it allows us to see ourselves as human.  Jesus knew that there would be events in our life that would cause us do doubt.  He said in John 16:33, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Jesus never tried to pull the wool over our eyes and make it seem like life would be perfect or without problems.  In fact, in this verse, He actually guaranteed that hard times would come our way.  "In this world you will have trouble."  Jesus knew that the world was full of suffering, abuse, sickness, disease and death.  Yet into this battle-weary world, He was born, He was raised, and He came to do away with the hurts and pains we experience on this earth.  The evil He encountered in this world didn't cause Him to doubt.  It didn't shake His faith, therefore, when we admit our doubts and tap into His power, He can enable us to overcome the doubts in our life.

2.  "Borrow" Faith by Spending Time With Those With Strong Faith

My Dad always told me, "You become like the people you spend time with."  When he told me that, I was a teenager and this was a warning.  I've discovered that this saying is true in a negative sense, but it also applies in a positive way as well.  When your faith is shaken and doubts plague your persona, one way to boost your faith is by spending time with people of great faith.  Faith is contagious.  So choose your company wisely and when you do so, be prepared to become infected.

3.  Act on Your Faith, Not on Your Doubts

What is the foundational thing that guides your steps?  When you make decisions, what is the filter by which you assess each decision?  If the answer to that question is your doubts, you are certain to walk through life in fear.  If the answer to the question was your faith, you will most certainly walk in freedom.  Before making a decision, ask yourself the question, "Am I making this decision in my faith or in my doubts?"  Be intentional when it comes to living and walking in your faith.

4.  Doubt your Doubts, Not Your Faith

If there's anything we should doubt, it's our doubts.  Think about it, our doubts lead us to destruction, while on the other hand, our faith leads us to freedom.  We've got to remember what Jesus said.  He said, "I have overcome."  His word cuts through doubt and frees us from questions.  He lifts our focus from the pain and disappointment and moves our eyes to Him.  If He's overcome the world, we have no reason to doubt Him.  The only thing we should doubt is our doubts because they take our eyes off of Christ and put them on ourselves.

5.  Ask God to Renew Your Heart & Mind

Wouldn't it be nice if our faith stayed on 'full' all the time?  That would be incredible, but the truth is, our faith operates a lot like the gas tank in your car.  Sometimes your heart is full, and other times it running on fumes.  There are moments when our minds are on the things of God and other times when our minds are in the gutter.  This is why God's word says in Romans 12:2 that we should be, "transformed by the renewing of our minds."  God is the only one that can transform our thinking.

6.  Don't Worry About Things You Cannot Know For Sure or Control

I remember watching the weather with my Grandparents.  If there was a chance of thunderstorms, it would effect our entire day.  Just the chance of bad weather would redirect our plans for the entire day and many times the sun was flying high without a cloud in the sky.  There are many times that we worry about things we can't control.  We operate with a "What if?" mentality and that lifestyle prevents us from actually living most of the time.

7.  Go Back to What You Know is True

Someone once said, "When in doubt, Don't."  I like that.  When doubts begin to creep into your life, realize it and decide not to go there.  Instead of entertaining your doubt, do an about-face and walk toward truth.  When you operate in the truth, your doubts will disappear.  I like what Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:12:  He said, "I know whom I have believed."  Defeating doubt doesn't mean having all the mysteries of life all figured out.  Rarely are there simple explanations for our suffering or good answers to the question, "Why?"  There is, however, a rock-solid answer to the question, "Whom should I turn to?"  The answer is Jesus.  When we know the God we believe in and we know His Word, we can operate in His truth and do away with our doubts.

8.  Pray & Worship Your Doubts Away

It tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "Pray without ceasing."  That tells us that we ought to live our lives with an ongoing conversation with God.  When we do that, we have the ability to pray our doubts away.   That doesn't necessarily mean that God will give us every answer we're looking for.  It does mean that in every situation, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we can present our request to God and we can know that He is big enough to handle the outcome (Philippians 4:6).  Our God is bigger than our circumstances.  He's bigger than our problems.  He's bigger than our shortcomings, our doubts, our weaknesses and our failures.  Our God is that big!  So if you have doubts in your life, take them to Jesus.  Pray to Him today.  Worship Him today.  Take your doubts to Him and understand that He's able to deliver you from them.

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