Donate to Support

Support the church that supports this blog. Donate at - Click the donate button in the upper righthand corner.
Showing posts with label Chrisianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chrisianity. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Doubt is Essential to Faith

The following blog is from a very special guest blogger, my 16-year-old daughter, Abigail Mullis.  Abigail shared this very honest and thought provoking message on Youth Sunday, and I share it with you today.  Do you ever doubt?  Read what Abigail has to say about faith and doubt.  Click Here to Watch Abigail's Message on YouTube

  This is your fair warning. First of all, this is a very scattered message if you can even call it that. I like to think of this more as a look into the teenage mind, or at least this teenage mind, that's what I’m calling it. Secondly, today I am going to be completely honest with you. I’m the kind of person who loves to sugar coat things, but recently I’ve felt like what I need is to be the complete opposite. So that's the warning. I’m not gonna go crazy, it's still me, but sometimes it is the most helpful to look at things from an … overwhelmingly… honest point of view. So here we go, and please bear with me.

Today, I want to focus on doubt. It's something I’ve experienced a lot. I have thousands of questions and very, very few answers. I want to read you something word for word that I wrote a while ago: “people often call this phase of life “typical teenage questioning” it’s just a phase. I hope so. Or they try to explain it away, but once it gets difficult it always falls on the flimsy shoulders of “Ask God when you get there. I guess we’ll never know. God works in mysterious ways.” I hate these phrases.” I still agree with that statement that I made over a year ago. At some points I’ve just decided that God isn’t real. Other times I’ve decided to put it away and stop wondering at all. Maybe it would be easier if I tried not to think about it. Doubt is a big struggle in my faith. So first of all, why do we have doubt at all? Here comes my first piece of brutal honesty. 

The Bible is literally insane. It starts out with an all powerful, all knowing God who has just … always been there? He created everything out of nothing. Weird. It ends with a magical man god who dies a brutal death and then rises from the dead, as not just a ghost, but a holy ghost. Then he goes up to heaven to sit at the right hand of his father, who is also him, but at the same time he is down here with us but in like air form. If you believe in this ghost guy then when you die you live in paradise, and if you don’t believe in him, when you die, you live in a fiery pit. Please don’t accuse me of blasphemy. I promise this all has a point. Do you realize how ridiculous that story sounded? But you know what else sounds ridiculous? Every other story of creation ever. Even the Big Bang is straight up bonkers. There was just space (which first of all how did space even get there in the first place?) and then boom there was literally the entire universe. It's all crazy. We are just a bunch of crazy humans trying to navigate a crazy existence. My favorite thing to say is “everything you can believe is crazy. It just depends what kind of crazy you believe in.” Even [Paul] admitted that. 2nd Corinthians 5:13 says “If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us.” I guess that kind of sums it up, huh. 

We all experience doubt. God asks us to believe in a crazy story. Of course we will be skeptical. I’ve been reading Jerimiah lately. So far, I’ve seen that Jeremiah was going through a bit of a difficult time. That’s nowhere near an exaggeration. Jeremiah 20:18 says “Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.” That's definitely pretty hefty. In my notes beside that verse I wrote “Even Jeremiah had doubts. He questioned his purpose and miserable life.  He would have been better dead, but God used him. Even a prophet questioned.” That’s a pretty comforting thought to me. Maybe it's terrible, but my favorite quotes from the Bible always seem to be the depressing ones. I think it's because those are the quotes that show us humanity the most. For example, Ecclesiastes 1:8 (another depressing one) “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” I think this sums up doubt pretty beautifully. Everyone has experienced it. We will all continue to experience it. Why? Because we are humans. Because we will never be satisfied with not knowing.

 So, why did God give humans skeptical minds? Isn’t that why so many people turn away from him? Why would God do it? I’m not sure, and we will never know for sure. After all, even if we did, we wouldn’t be satisfied with the answer. But here’s a little hypothesis of my own. If you were forced to love someone, would you really love them? If you had never known any different, and you never questioned your love for that person or even thought about questioning your love, would you really love them? If there was no other option, if it was just a fact of life, would it really be love? Why did God put the apple in the garden? Why would he give the potential for something so awful to happen? Why didn’t he just not give humans the option to sin? I don’t know, but I’ve always thought that the apple was there because if it wasn’t, and if there was no other option, then Adam and Eve wouldn’t have really loved God. Love is a choice.

Romans 4:13-15 says “Clearly, God’s promise to the whole Earth and Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God's promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)” What’s important in Adam and Eve’s story was not the law they were breaking. It was their decision to not love and obey God. It was the idea that they could have faith and trust what God said about the apple, or they could disobey him and eat the apple. They could love God, or they could simply not. And if there is no law to break then what would show their faith? Adam and Eve had free will through the apple. 

Free will is tricky and that is what has always played on my doubt. It's so confusing to me because how can God be all knowing and still give me the option to choose him? Doesn’t he already know what I will do? When he creates someone does he not see their whole life? Does he not see that he is creating this person, and in the end they will go to hell because he knows exactly what will happen? How is that free will? I don’t know. God himself is incredibly confusing to me. Jeremiah 23:23-24 says “Am I a God who is only close at hand? Says the Lord. No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and the earth? Says the Lord.”  He is everything and nothing. Past and present and future. Kind and understanding, but still vengeful and angry. I mean after all, the whole book of Jeremiah is about God putting the Jewish people through horrendous things because they broke his laws. Then later, Jesus comes in, and as I cited earlier from Romans, he says that the laws aren’t really what matter. It’s all very confusing to me. I hope I’m not making you dizzy. 

A couple months ago, Amy asked us who Jesus was to us. This question comes from Luke 9:20 when Jesus asks his disciples “ ‘But who do you say I am?’.” This was a great question. It’s so great that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I started to wonder, if someone asked me why I believe in God, despite all the crazy stories in that Bible, what would I say? Would it be, I just always have? Would it be, that’s what is expected of me? Would it be, I’ve never thought of another option, or I never stopped and questioned it? Doubt is the apple in our garden. You can’t love God without having a reason. You can’t find a reason, without searching for an answer. You can't search for an answer if you don't have a doubt. Believing isn’t seeing, but believing certainly isn’t blind. It is calculated. It is a risk, and I wouldn’t take a risk if I didn’t have a reason. Why do I believe in God if I doubt him so much? I have seen his love. I have seen it in places you wouldn’t stop to think about. It is a different kind of love. God didn’t come down and give me a hug, but every friend I’ve ever had was there for a reason. Every bit of love I’ve felt was there for a reason. My existence is unexplainable and it has been filled with an unexplainable love. That’s what I choose to believe in. It's crazy, but so is everything else.

Here is the last piece of scripture I will leave with you, not to make you feel all better, but to keep you thinking about this important aspect of faith. Luke 22:66-70 says “At daybreak all the elders of the people assembled, including the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. Jesus was led before this high council, and they said ‘Tell us, are you the messiah?’ But he replied, ‘If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on the Son Of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.’ They all shouted, ‘So you are claiming to be the Son Of God?’ And he replied, ‘You say that I am.’ ”  

I don’t know a lot of things, but I hate to let questions fall on flimsy shoulders, so I will try to put all of these doubts on something a little more solid. Maybe it’s not the best answer, and I know it certainly won’t satisfy me, but it's what I have to offer. Doubt doesn’t make us bad people. I think it makes us better. It makes us question who God is to us and why we want a relationship with him at all. Doubt makes us question our faith, but in the end, it will be the thing that strengthens it. Don’t blindly believe, always question. Search for answers and when you don’t find them, question why they aren’t there. Why do you believe in God? Why have you doubted him? What makes you CHOOSE to love him? 

So, thank you for bearing with me, and I hope you got as much out of this as I got writing it!

Click Here to Watch Abigail's Message on YouTube