Hope has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I’ve been hopeful for specific things to come. I thought I caught a glimpse of something that got me excited. And, maybe I did, but that hope is being challenged and I’m now filled with overwhelming doubt.
Doubt in the faith God loves me enough to say yes. I don’t feel his love despite the evidence around me. There are reasons for this that I won’t get into now, but suffice it to say I’m struggling. I’m in a hard place where hope and doubt are fighting against each other.
This is not a state I want to remain in, so I recently prayed for help. The stress and anxiety I feel is crushing me. I can’t remain here, yet I don't know how to move out of it.
Thankfully, the Lord gave me a message I needed to hear. It came from National Community Church (NCC) in DC. They are doing a series on doubt and this sermon met me right where I am.
It was so good for many reasons (I highly recommend you listen) and I’m not going to attempt to repeat all that I heard, but I will highlight a few of the meaningful takeaways. When you're done reading this, go listen and see what you glean from it!
Let me first tell you that I haven’t been able to make sense of my doubt, because in my head, I know that God loves me. I believe. I still hold fast to the promises of scripture. To say I’m doubting my faith doesn't sound accurate, yet how do I describe my internal struggle?
That’s why hearing the message that doubt begins as emotion before it becomes intellectual makes perfect sense to me! My doubt is emotional, not intellectual. It’s in my heart, not my head. I’m struggling to believe Jesus loves me because of my experiences. Because of what I’m feeling. Or, rather, what I’m not feeling. I think I’m longing to feel Jesus’ touch, just as he touched the leper and made him well. He didn’t just say, you are healed, he showed empathy and reached out to him.
Israel faced this too. These were God’s people who had experienced his deliverance and miracles. Yet, when things became difficult, they cried out in anger and doubt. Have you ever wondered how the Israelites could have turned their back on God so many times? I have and now I understand. I have a newfound empathy for what they experienced.
But, our omniscient God offered hope knowing Israel was in an emotional place. Through the prophet Jeremiah, he gave them these words:
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:10-11
With these words God was saying, “I see you. I hear you. I have plans to rescue you from exile, to give you good things, and this is when I will do it.”
This message is also for me and for you. The problem is, God usually doesn’t give us a timeline. And that is where I struggle. In the waiting and hoping that never seems to end. My past experiences tell me it will never happen. Emotion overtakes me, hope disappears and I sit in doubt. Doubt that I am worthy of God’s yes. That my dreams matter. That God sees me and hears me.
I wish I could say that after hearing this message my doubt has disappeared and I’m filled with an overwhelming hope again. That is not the case. But, I do feel like a burden has been lifted. I feel like I am not alone and my feelings are normal. I am able to see how my past experiences have shaped my expectations and a lot of my doubt is rooted in my feelings, not the truth. I can see that I am just longing for Jesus to touch me in a personal way that makes me feel loved. In this knowing, a certain amount of peace that I will get through this has washed over me. That my heart will eventually catch up with my head.
Wishing you hope today. -jen
Here’s the link to NCC’s sermon again. I encourage you to listen! There’s so much more to it than I even touched on.