Have you ever doubted God?
I realize that much of our Christian upbringing has caused us to immediately respond indignantly, “No! Of course not!” But honestly ask yourself, “Have I ever doubted God?”
Abram certainly did. In today’s passage, we see God appear to Abram and promise that he will be rewarded for his faithfulness in dealing with the King of Sodom, but Abram doesn’t respond with gratitude, he responds with doubt.
Please read Genesis 15:1-3.
God has previously promised Abram that he will be a great nation, blessed, and his descendants shall be blessed and possess the promised land (see Genesis 12:2, 3, and 7). Yet, here we are, probably years later, and Abram is no closer to having a single child than he was when God first made this promise. Abram was starting to get up there in age, and he was still childless. How could he possible become a great nation? How could he possibly have so many children that they could possess the promised land? He doesn’t even have a single son!
Of course Abram must have doubted God.
To some people, this is a shocking statement. Many of us have been taught that doubt is wrong, that we just need to have more faith, and that doubt is a sign of an immature believer or someone who isn’t even saved at all. Yet, this is a misunderstanding of doubt.
Doubt, like all emotions, is neither good nor bad; doubt is neutral. Other emotions such as anger, mourning, sexual desire, love, or hatred, can be either good or bad, and so can doubt! ...depending on what it causes us to do. Doubt can either lead us closer to God, or it can drive us away from God.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible comes in Mark 9. In this passage, there is a father whose son is tormented by an evil spirit. When he asks Jesus for help, the Lord tells him that “all things are possible for one who believes” (9:23). What I love is the man’s response to Jesus in the next verse: “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (9:24).
That is an example of healthy doubt: saying to God, “Lord, I doubt if what you say is actually true, please help me to believe.” That is how Abram responds to his doubt.
Please read Genesis 15:4-6.
Abram’s doubts didn’t cause him to run away from God, they caused him to run toward God. Abram continued to listen to God, and “the word of the Lord came to him.”
Sometimes, when we doubt, we feel like God is distant. Yet, if we continue to pursue God, eventually we will see Him.
God promised Israel, while they were suffering in exile, while they were in one of the worst situations of their lives, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
When Abram continued to pursue after God, even though he doubted, God spoke to Abram; God renewed His promise to Abram. And Abram believed the Lord. This faith was counted to Abram’s account as righteousness. Sure he had his doubts, but he let his doubts lead him into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Only then could he possess saving faith.
Let me encourage you who have doubts to follow Abram’s example. We might not always understand God’s ways. We might question Him, His Word, His Church, or His plan. But don’t let that doubt lead you away from God; let your doubt draw you closer to Him.