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On Faith: When in doubt about God

Do you ever doubt God? Maybe it's doubting that he cares about you, or that he's powerful enough to help you or that he even exists.

I believe that everyone, even the most solid Christian believer, goes through times of questioning God. There are the times we pray for something very specific; yet, it doesn't happen. Or times we watch the news and see all the tragedy in the world and wonder where God is in all of it. Or times we feel lonely, ignored or abused and seek comfort from the Lord, but we don't seem to find any.

I was going through just such a time during my junior high years. I was questioning everything I'd been taught, and just beginning to go down some wrong roads. God decided it was time to get my attention. As I was running to catch up with some friends as we went to the store near my home in St. Paul to buy football cards, I was hit by a car. I remember the scene in slow-motion — seeing the car approach and the horror on the teenage driver's face, flying down the street and landing on my head, and waking up to dozens of faces staring down at me. It was all very surreal.

I came out of that accident with only a bump on my head (and a slight concussion). In fact, the car looked worse than I did. God chose to protect a doubting, foolish kid and give him a second chance at faith.

Actually, the Bible never condemns honest doubts. In fact, when we seek answers to our doubts, we find the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

God promises to come to you when you truly seek. However, he doesn't say he will do it in your timing. He comes to us in a variety of ways when we are ready.

For the Apostle Paul, it was a blinding light. For the prophet Isaiah, it was a vision of heaven. For Moses, a bush that was burning, but not consumed. For me, it was a little red sports car.

But the key isn't how he comes, but that he will reveal himself to you when you honestly seek him.

We need to be like the father of a demon-possessed boy in Mark 9. He brings his son to Jesus seeking healing and says in verse 22: "... If you can do anything, please take pity on us." Jesus responds by stating that faith makes anything possible, and asking the father if he believes.

The father's response in verse 24 is instructive: "I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief."

This may sound like a contradiction, but it teaches us that one can have faith and still have doubts or questions. Notice that Jesus doesn't condemn him for lack of faith and tell him to return when he truly believes. Instead, he acts.

He doesn't always answer in our timing or in the way we'd like. But he does answer. So if you have questions, doubts or prayers that seem to go unanswered, take heart. God is there; he does listen; and when you seek, you will find him, even in the midst of your doubts.

Trust him even when he seems silent. He's at work in this world and in your life today.

"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. Scott Nelson has been the pastor at First Baptist since 1993.