Day Two: Have Mercy On Those Who Doubt
EARLIER THIS year I tried being vegan. Both my parents are vegan, one of my co-workers (tries) to be vegan and they all love it. In my eternal quest to try to eat and be healthier while living on the road, I thought this would introduce some healthy guidelines that would be easy to follow.
So I said good-bye to cheese and bacon, and hello to a world of plants. I thought.
By the end of my three month trial I had gained weight and was hungry more frequently than ever. I found myself irritable, grumpy and exhausted at the end of every day. How could I be ignoring all my favourite foods and STILL be so unhealthy?
Turns out I wasn’t ignoring ALL my favorite foods. Some days instead of eating carrot sticks and hummus I would just chow down on an entire bag of chips. Or the only thing I’d eat from dinner was the coconut ice cream, or I’d have three pieces of toast and plant-based margarine for breakfast. I was basically living on an all carb diet with some fruits and vegetables thrown in for good measure. No wonder it wasn’t working.
The reason I’m telling you this story isn’t because I think a vegan lifestyle is horrible and unhealthy (when done correctly I'm sure it's great, I just love potato chips too much!) I’m telling you this story because I think we all have our own brand of unhealthy spirituality we keep under wraps.
Maybe you don’t struggle with doubts in your faith in the traditional sense: i.e. you don’t struggle to believe Jesus was real, or that the Bible is the word of God, or that there is a heaven. Good for you. But maybe you doubt that God really loves you.
You doubt Jesus died to save your sin.
You doubt his ability to provide your next paycheque.
You doubt he has goodness behind all the pain.
You doubt he’s sovereign in your circumstances.
You doubt, you doubt, we doubt.
In other words, you might be vegan but that doesn’t mean you’re healthy.
I’m not trying to make anyone here feel bad about themselves, but I am trying to destroy the notion that one form of doubt is better than another.
“But Gabby,” you might say, “I don’t struggle to believe Jesus is God, I just struggle to believe he loves me.”
To which I would remind you that Jesus not only says he’s the son of God, but that’s he is the embodiment of love, here to take away the sins of the world. Doubting and disbelieving one aspect of who Jesus says he is isn’t holier than another. They’re just different because we’re all created and wired differently, and (thankfully!) Jesus makes room for us all at the table. Yesterday we looked at how Jesus interacts with doubters: he’s patient (John 21:8), he sends them out to make disciples (Matt 28:16-20), he shows them physical evidence (John 20: 20), he asks the Holy Spirit to open their minds (Luke 24: 45).
Today I want to talk about how we treat each other.
We have this disease where we secretly celebrate other people’s failures. It makes us feel better about ourselves, because while we may not be perfect, at least we’re not like them. That’s how the Pharisees treated sinners and doubters— with self-righteousness and shame.
Jesus has much harsher words for Pharisees than he ever did for his disciples in the deepest moments of their doubt and suffering.
Walking in faith isn’t all about a path to perfection, it’s about us bringing our real selves before the real God. Jesus is our righteouness, which means he desires your authentic self, no matter how broken you may feel.
The main story line of the Bible is the collective journey of broken doubters, clinging to God for hope, salvation and peace.
Abraham doubted he’d have a son.
Moses doubted Pharaoh would let his people go.
The Israelites doubted the promise land (like so much!)
So let’s come alongside side each other in times of confusion and doubt, trusting these things are just part of the journey. Jesus might use you to display his patience, you to make disciples, you to prove the evidence, and you to open someone else mind. While doubt may be part of our story, fear and isolation don't have to be.
So I’ll leave you with this encouragement from the book of Jude, written by Jesus’ own brother:
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourself in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt…” (Jude 20-22)
Go, have mercy on those who doubt.