It may come to a surprise to you that your pastor occasionally has his doubts and weaknesses. Let me be the first to say that I certainly do. The first time I buried a teenager I was angry with God. When a tornado went through the parish I served, I doubted God. And there are days, even now, when I wonder if I’ve been faithful to the grace I’ve been given. Theological doubts, weakness in ability and faith, doubting of faith and self-confidence – these are real. And as I have read the spiritual giants and eminent divines of the faith, I realize that they had their doubts too.
John Wesley had this struggle all of his life. Not even a year after Wesley’s heart-warming Aldersgate experience, he wrote these words on January 4, 1739:
My friends affirm that I am mad, because I said I was not a Christian a year ago. I affirm I am not a Christian now. Indeed, what I might have been I know not, had I been faithful to the grace then given, when, expecting nothing less, I received such a sense of forgiveness of my sins as till then I never knew. But that I am not a Christian at this day… For a Christian is one who has the fruits of the Spirit of Christ, which… are love, peace, joy. But these I have not.
It is very easy for those who take up the cross of Christ and practice radical discipleship to get discouraged, for this reason: any intentional attempts at practicing radical discipleship will bring opposition. And sometimes, the battles within the Church are harder than the ones outside of the Church.
Do our doubts in faith mean something is wrong with us? Hardly. One of the ways our faith is made stronger is through self-examination. And the good news is that not only Scripture, but also the experience of those saints who also dealt with struggle are instructive for us. It is a pipe dream to think that life will not have struggles – that’s simply not realistic. But it is realistic to expect God to be walking with us in our struggles.
In fact, God holds us in the palm of His hand - and doesn't let go.