Season of Doubt

Lately I’ve been wrestling with God about some things. I’ve been feeling restless, held back. I’ve been confused and angry about some promises it seems He made that haven’t been fulfilled. I’ve felt disappointed and jealous and resentful.

So, what do I do with a season like this? I suppose I could turn my back on God, walk away and pretend He doesn’t exist. But the words come back to me: “Where else shall we go Lord? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). No, I’ve had a glimpse of life without God, and I know it’s a hopeless, restless, desperate chasing after meaning that never materializes.

So instead of turning away, here’s what I do:
I come to him angry. I yell at him and flail my fists and tell his what I feel about him right now.
And I read the scriptures. Over and over again, I read. Because when I’ve put up blocks against His voice, the Bible is the only place I know to go. So I go to it’s pages, gasping with thirst, hoping that maybe today, maybe this time, I will hear from Him.

And eventually I do. It might be days, weeks, sometimes even months, but some moment, when I’m least expecting it, He breaks through my defenses and takes up my tender, bruised heart in his arms and brings comfort and rest and healing and hope. As John Donne writes in the beginning of his Holy Sonnet 14 (one of my favorite poems):

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end…

Or, in the words of a more modern poet, Chris Rice:

Well, I don’t quite know how to do this
But Jesus, I can’t save myself
So here I go calling our for mercy
And crying out for Your help
So if You hear me

I need a hero
Please dare to find me
Fly to my rescue
And crash through the wall

Announce my freedom
Bring me to my senses
Gather me into Your strong arms
And carry me off

I don’t want to make it sound like it’s easy, like a nicely wrapped package…”just keep reading the Bible and it will all come out right…” It’s not a formula. It’s a wrestling match. It’s about engaging God in whatever way you authentically can. For me, that’s often–but not always–through reading Scripture. Sometimes all I can manage is a prayer, “God, I want to want you. Help.” Whatever step you can take in sincerity–not trumped up words or faked faith–take that step. No matter how small. And I believe God will, eventually, crash in and meet you there.

What do you do in seasons of doubt? Leave a comment. It’s so encouraging to know that others go through these barren seasons, and to hear how they survive in them.

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