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Can Doubt and Skepticism Lead to Stronger Faith?

We’re in a short series right now—camped out in the beginning of Gideon’s story in Judges 6. If you haven’t had the chance to read the first post I would love for you to take a look. Gideon was hiding from the horrendous Mideonites when the Angel of the Lord came to him and called him a mighty warrior. He did not, by any account, look like a mighty warrior and he didn’t respond as one either. He looked around at his utterly oppressive situation and simply didn’t have the faith to even believe what the angel was saying.

And yet, his story teaches us that God meets us as we are and sees us as we will be. No matter our circumstances or our view of self, God goes beyond those things we consider limitations and loves us as we are while he brings us into our new name and His purposes.

Even still, our doubts can rage and our wondering can paralyze us some times.

Gideon Questions

And that’s just where we find Gideon immediately after the angle has called him mighty warrior.

13“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

 14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

 17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” (Judges 6:13-18)

Despite the angel of the Lord calling him a mighty warrior, his posture remains uncertain. He has all the questions and the all the doubts.

The angel says “go in the strength you have” and Gideon seems to be thinking: what strength?

His tribe is small. How can it be possible for them to “save Israel” as the angel said?

God says He will be with him. To that Gideon says, “If this is for real, please give me a sign.”

Can you relate to Gideon here?

Understandably, he is not convinced he is the one for the job. He’s not wrong—he does come from a small tribe. And while we have no idea if Gideon was a man of stature and physical strength, we do know that the Mideonites are a ruthless and powerful group willing to do anything to keep their position of power.

Wondering and Doubting in Faith

But what if we take our eyes off Gideon for a moment and look at the angel of God? Let’s fix our eyes on the being that is fully representative of God and His will in this situation.

God has already told Gideon that He will be with him and Gideon still questions. Does God abandon him? No! Quite the opposite. He remains. He keeps responding to Gideon’s concerns. And even when Gideon, after all this questioning is still unsure and asks for a sign, the angel doesn’t throw his arms in the air and say, “Goodness, child, enough is enough!” No. Instead the angel of the Lord performs a miracle!

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. (Judges 6:20-21)

Whatever God is calling you to, you can doubt and you can question. You are allowed to wonder: how will I ever lead these people? How could I ever make an impact in this issue in my community? How can I actually stay home with my children and feel fulfilled? God, are you sure you called the right woman to [insert your difficult thing]? You can even pray, “Jesus, can you please show me a sign that this is for real?”

Sometimes our questions and doubts make us feel like we are less than as believers. We say to ourselves, “Those with real faith never question or doubt!” Somewhere in our journeys many of us were told either explicitly or implicitly, that to question or doubt means we have no faith. I would like to suggest that it is rather the opposite. When we go to God with our uncertainties, we are exercising great faith that He will answer and respond to us. We worship a kind, gentle, and caring God who can handle our fears, questions, and doubts better than even we can, honestly.

But there is something very important to consider in the doubting—do not leave the Father while you are wondering. Instead, go to Him. Gideon only left the Angel of the Lord to gather his offering. He didn’t hear the Angel and then run away from him. He questioned, he asked, he pushed. You can too; God can handle it, and wants to handle it with you.

Nothing is Too difficult for Him

Recently, I have been walking through a rather angst-inducing season. I found myself white knuckling a dream, one that I think is a beautiful mix of God’s goodness and His ability to work through me. It’s such a beautiful dream that I have been terrified it will be ripped away and have been consumed by every last thing that comes my way—convinced whatever challenge or obstacle I am facing must be there to steal the dream away.

In the midst of this I have asked friends to pray for me and have been seeking God for peace and strength to release this false control I continue to cling to. During worship one Sunday morning, I stood singing and praying. I wasn’t even thinking about this season for the moment; I was just worshipping and enjoying the presence of the Holy Spirit. In a matter of moments I sensed God speaking to my heart and telling me it’s all going to be okay, to relax, and let Him do the work as I walk forward toward to the dream. It was one of those moments when you know in your heart, He is here and He is holding me.

And yet, even after this incredible encounter with God I was quite timid to share the news with the close friends I invited into the journey with me. What if what I heard was true and yet God still didn’t come through? As the days went on I questioned Him, did you really say that to me? Are you sure this is going to work out? This thing and that thing make me think it will not, but you knew all this was going on and still said so… And you know what? He remained close, as He always has. Gently nudging me and showing me that He was working.

Friends, when we go to Him, we are believing He will answer—and He will. Even when the situation seems impossible and all the odds are against you, the Holy Spirit is with you.

In all his wondering and questioning, Gideon continued to ask and wonder—and you can too. God can handle your doubts, your skepticism. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

In the next post of this series we’ll look at what happens when Gideon surrenders his heart to God and how we can trust God for the same thing.

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