GUEST AUTHOR: Ashley Stromenberg
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘If [I] can? Everything is possible to the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do believe! Help my unbelief.’” // Mark 9:23-24
What do you do when you’re not sure if you can trust God? Have you ever had something that you knew God had promised but was just not happening? Maybe our Christian faith is so advanced in the 21st century that we never doubt God, but with one peek at the Bible, we can see that it is littered with people of faith who doubt. Sarah and Abraham straight up laughed at God when He promised them a child (the first record of LOL is in Genesis 17). Or Gideon, who asked God over and over to prove Himself fo’ real before he would go into battle (read how God humoured Gideon in Judges 6). Or maybe Thomas, the most famous doubter of all, who – after seeing miracle after miracle performed by Jesus for years, would not believe that Jesus had performed yet another unless he saw it (for that story of great faith, see John 20). Which one are you most like? Do you laugh at God’s promises, believing that there’s no way it could happen? Ask God to prove Himself in bigger and bigger ways, because the ways He’s proved Himself in the past aren’t big enough? Or do you doubt what Jesus can do, even though He has never failed you in the past? Do you have your own unique way in which you doubt that God’s plans are good, timely, and possible, that He loves you, or that He’s even real?
Let’s get real honest here: by now, you know that I quit my job to do something that I knew 110% beyond a doubt that God was telling me to do (CLICK HERE if you missed it). The catch? My new role required raising my own salary before I could really start, with some of these “start up hours” paid by the organization. Though most staff take up to a year to raise their full salary, I quit my job knowing that I would only have 3 months until those start up paid hours would run out. I had no doubt that God would make it happen easy and fast, because I was responding in obedience to this great big scary thing He wanted me to do. But the end of July is coming soon, and I am currently sitting at 30% of my monthly support confirmed, which will limit me to working only 30% of fulltime.
My first thought is, what the heck, God? I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, out of ideas, and going nowhere fast. God, you were suppose to make it happen fast and easy! Instead of having some kind of superhero faith, I’ve been worried, and it’s been easy to doubt God.
But here’s the kicker; when it’s fast and easy, we don’t have to rely on God. When it’s fast, we don’t have to pray. When it’s easy, we don’t have to grow in our faith. God likes to work when things seem impossible – not possible.
So how to we trust God when all our human logic causes us to doubt? How do we trust God when we do not know the answer? How do we trust God when we’re stuck in the present and can’t see into the future? We just do.
Pull out all the faith you have, even if it’s as small as a seed, and have faith to obey, let go, and trust God, even with all your fear and doubt. Remember the ways God has come through for you in the past, and reflect on whether or not there are any times He has actually let you down. And be honest in prayer. As the man said in the opening verse, “God I believe, but help me with my unbelief!”. God knows my doubt. God also knows the other side of my situation, and can see how my faith will be strengthened as His promises are fulfilled in my life. Doubt is okay; in fact, I actually think that doubt is a crucial point in our journey with God, as it forces us to expand our faith and trust.
Faith is not just a word to toss around. Jesus calls us out in James 2, reminding us that saying you have faith and acting in faith are two totally different things. Our faith is shown through our actions; what we believe is revealed by what we do.
Now please, do not try to encourage me with that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” garbage. I think that has got to be one of the most misused quotes from the Bible. If you’re ever unsure about how you should interpret something in the Bible, flip through the thing and look for themes. It may not always seem like it, but the Bible is 100% consistent, and God loves a good theme more than your high school English teacher. How many times in the Bible is the idea “Yes human, you can do anything!” present vs. “Human you can do absolutely nothing without Jesus!”. I’ll give you a hint; the second one is basically the point of salvation. Even with the Bible story that began this post, the “everything is possible to the one who believes” does not mean that as Christians, we become superheroes to whom all things are possible, rather because of WHO we believe in are all things possible. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” is suppose to mean, “I can do nothing, but it is Christ’s strength through grace that allows me to do something,” not, “You can do anything”. It’s a reminder of how much we cannot do on our own and how much we need God – not a reminder that if we try harder, pray better, or believe bigger that WE can do it. We cannot. Only God can.
But, kicker #2; even though we can do nothing and God can do everything, God chooses to include us in His plans. Because when people who can do nothing on their own do incredible things, it is evidence of God’s grace, glory, and greatness. He loves to make something from nothing and He loves to see His strength shown through our weaknesses. God is 100% able to drop an anonymous cheque for 1 million dollars in my mailbox. But that’s not how God works – He often doesn’t just hand us the “easy” solution – especially when it comes to resources. God’s whole strategy is to distribute gifts among His people, so that they can participate in His plan, by giving what God has given them. God designed it to see a team of people investing what He has given them back into His kingdom. PS: God doesn’t just use Christians; I believe He is deep in the heart of ALL people calling everyone into His great plan!
If God is poking at your heart, please consider joining my team. I am currently looking for partners anywhere between $10-$100/month to help me reach my goal (CLICK HERE for more information). I need an additional $750/month confirmed by July 31st to keep me at part time, which is where I am at currently with my paid start up hours. My ultimate goal is to be able to start full time by October 1st, which would require an additional $2,000/month confirmed. If every person who has looked at my 1-100 Campaign Page in the last two weeks committed to giving only $25/month, I would be fully supported today! Thank you so much to all of you who have already invested in me and the mission of YFC Canada; God is using YOU to see incredible things done with this ministry. Plus, you get a tax receipt, so that’s cool too.
It is easy to doubt God. It is hard to have faith. But really, I don’t know if I would want it to be the other way around – easy faith that is hard to doubt seems a bit like really boring mind control. If you are doubting God, in any way, in any situation, at any time, that’s okay. Call out to Him, just like that guy in the Bible did, and say “Help me with my unbelief!”. Do you know what happened next in the story? Jesus performed a miracle and the man’s faith increased. So don’t give up just yet. God wants to use your doubt to increase your faith.