Wrestling with God-The boat of doubters is crowded.
I am in good company or bad company depending on your point of view. I prefer “good company” since some of the folks in the doubters boat are some pretty important Biblical characters: Abraham (Genesis 17:17-18), Jacob (Genesis 32:24), Gideon (Judges 6:13), Zacharias (Luke 1:18), John the Baptist (Matthew 11:23), and Thomas (John 20:25) and it sounds better to be in good company! Doubt is the universal struggle but is it really “elemental to faith” as postulated by Paul Tillich the liberal theologian and philosopher from Harvard School of Divinity in the 1940’s. What does Scripture say? Do we desire to lean toward this teaching (doubt being elemental to faith) because it takes us off the hook for our lack of faith?
Eugène Delacroix – Christ on the Sea of Galilee
Genesis 32:24 says “Jacob was alone and wrestled a man all night long.” Aren’t most of our doubts wrestled out in the solitude of our own minds and hearts? The Hebrew for the word wrestle is avek. As a noun it means dust, as a verb it means to get yourself dusty. The definition goes on to say, in the Niphal reflexive tense (whatever that means in Hebrew) “he wrestled with himself in the presence of….” It also suggests we substitute the word dust for powder in the Song of Solomon 3:6 and see what we get: “What is this coming up from the wilderness Like columns of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all scented powders of the merchant?” It refers to the ancient belief that wisdom (the fear of the LORD-Proverbs 9:10) and intelligence were passed through the bottom of the feet into the ground. “This belief was so strong that disciples would actually roll in the dust of their master to pick up traces of his wisdom.” This match between Jacob and the angel (presence of the pre-incarnate Christ) was more emotional and mental than physical. (chaimbentorah.com)
I have stayed up all night rolling (tossing and turning and pacing and crying, and prostrate in prayer), just trying to determine just what the heck I am suppose to do. Needing a bit of Jesus dust to fall on me when what I really should have done was be still, be quiet, and go do what He said. Tons of energy was spent leaving me limping through at least the next day totally exhausted.
So what do the Scriptures say about doubt? Is it like Paul Tillich taught that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith or is faith the polar opposite of doubt and cannot coexist with faith. I will let you decide by weighing the Scriptural evidence.
Matthew 13:58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Matthew 21:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. (emphasis mine)
Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Matthew 17:20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;[a] for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (emphasis in these verses all mine)
From these verses it is clear, faith and doubt repel each other. You cannot exercise faith in the presence of doubt. Jacob wrestles out his doubt in the PRESENCE of faith. He would not let go until he found his faith. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and remembering the works of the Lord in our lives (Psalms 77:11); for we walk by faith and not by sight, and faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. (II Corinthians 5:7 and Hebrews 11:1)
Mr. Tillich, I respectfully disagree with you! Doubt is not an element of faith but is totally displeasing to the LORD. He cannot work in the presence of doubt. We must wrestle our doubts down in the PRESENCE of His dust and stay until we absorb the faith of the MASTER.
Let’s jump out of this boat of doubters and like Peter, have faith and walk on water!
No Doubt, by Petra
Trying walking not treading,