“Oh God tell me, what’s going on?”
My mind could use relief.
When in doubt, remember this:
beware of unbelief.
Welcome, dear Christian, to a timely discussion of the difference between doubt and unbelief. Timely because this is still the age of grace.
Understanding that there is a difference may one day save your bacon. And some of us really like bacon. The more the better.
First, a few words about doubt.
If you’re breathing, you will no doubt suffer from doubt. The Valley of Doubt will periodically appear on your navigational life map with a ‘you are here’ marker. Doubt is a universal aspect of our human makeup that afflicts believers and nonbelievers alike. Truthfully, doubt comes with the territory of living one’s life.
I know the question at the top of this post may sound like hints of Marvin Gaye (if you now hear that tune in your head, you’re welcome). But frankly, dear Christian, Marvin was one of a bazillion people since Time began that has asked the question, “what’s going on?” with a similar remedy, “my mind needs a vacation.”
In the natural and the spiritual life of a believer, there are times you simply do not understand what God is doing.
And that, dear Christian, makes doubt a matter of the mind.
Doubt is common. Name a lot in life and you will find doubt in the residence though you companion with God.
While it takes time for something to be resolved or understood, committed faith leads you on –
– It is yours to press in for answers through prayer and study;
– to practice quiet rest at God’s admonition to be still and listen, wait, watch, and see;
– or, get up off of that thang and walk out or through – with Him – whatever spells d-o-u-b-t.
Usually, all three before the clouds of doubt go pfffff.
Holy Spirit loves to bring clarity to the matters of the mind. As you ask, He answers with light that dispels doubt.
Which leads us to more than a few words about unbelief.
If doubt is a matter of the mind, unbelief is a matter of the will. Simply put, unbelief is a refusal to believe.
Refusal to believe what? To believe God, believe in God, believe that there is a God. It’s a downward spiral when refusal to believe at any stage is held more sacred than the One who gave you life and free will to begin with.
A Romans 1 passage in The Message (not always regarded for its theological accuracy) does, in fact, nail it.
Ignoring God Leads to a Downward Spiral
But God’s angry displeasure erupts
as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate,
as people try to put a shroud over truth.
But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!
By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created,
people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see:
eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse.
What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well,
but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him,
they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion
so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.
They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.
They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands
for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
Romans 1:18-23 The Message (MSG)
Did you catch that? “…when they didn’t treat Him like God…they trivialized themselves…” That strikes at the very heart of who we are – the beloved creation of the Majesty of God, made in His image. “They traded the glory of God…” not realizing that the trade results in futility: always seeking to fill what was traded away; the counterfeit for the original.
This, dear Christian, is not doubt, a matter of the mind that does not understand what God is doing, for a time.
Unbelief, as a matter of the will, takes doubt and even while knowing the basic reality of God, refuses to
– worship, honor, esteem, or glorify Him as God, or
– actually express gratitude toward Him, even as simply as giving thanks before a meal 2
One of the things Jesus repeatedly did throughout the Gospels was take bread, give thanks to His Abba, break it and eat. So simple a gesture of gratitude, yet how many ‘enlightened’ ones figure they know where the bread came from, how it was made…even worse, GMO’d to death…and refuse to consider what God has to do with it?
Doubt will pursue the answer to that question and a multitude more, inviting continued interaction with God.
Unbelief sets itself up against the majesty of God, which is a mark of the Enemy’s oily presence. Given enough leeway, he will quietly and subversively blow out one light of truth after another until another mind becomes darkened and foolish – heedless and insipid (syn. wishy-washy). Dear Christian, your God is not wishy-washy.
Faith to Believe
Doubt if you must, for awhile. If unbelief plagues you, it is not power you need; unbelief reigns for lack of faith.3
When in doubt, remember this: beware of unbelief. What is the cure for unbelief? Choosing faith to believe. God will prove Himself to you personally, even though the whole world shouts His glory.
And so the upward spiral begins.
~ Gracefully Free
1 The Message – © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson │2 Strong’s Concordance Greek specific notation for ‘give thanks’ in Romans 1:21 │ 3 Mark 9:23-24
©2019 Nancy Bentz │Wellspring of Life