Why do we doubt so much? It’s true that in our world nothing comes for free, but have we forgotten that the Lord’s way is quite different from the norms of our world? If He promises something, it will be fulfilled, guaranteed. So why do we doubt?
“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6, NIV)
We are like that traveler who has never taken a train before and who is confused about the information portrayed to him. There are so many tracks and so many trains, and none of them seem to indicate where he wants to go, for they only mention their final destination. He climbs aboard one train, but before it leaves the station, he jumps back off: “What if it is the wrong train?” He could spend the whole day doing this. He could also ask someone he trusts. But is there anyone at the train station he trusts?
Could luck fellow traveler. I hope you don’t stay stuck in your indecision!
How would we react if a huge army, such as the one of Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, surrounded our town, and we were literally starving? Some of our neighbors had became cannibalistic, for no food could be found. Would we start to doubt?
The King of Israel at that time was furious at his circumstances, and he blamed the prophet Elisha (See 2 Kings 6:31b). Shortly after that he blamed God directly. It is so easy to do so, even in our day and age: “This disaster is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?” (2Kgs 6:33b, NIV2)
It is so typical for us to blame God for our own wrong doing! “God should have prevented me from doing wrong! I am not responsible!”
What about freewill?
Most of the people in that town had not searched for God’s will. Instead they took it in their own hands how to cope with adversity, and by doing so, they sinned greatly!
Elisha’s answered: “Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”” (2Kgs 7:1, NIV2)
Instead of being encouraged, an officer responded: “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” (2Kgs 7:2b, NIV2)
Doubt was at the centre of his answer, and no wonder, after so much blaming God! But doubt costs dearly, and it influences everybody around us. Sadly we often forget that fact.
Elisha’s response? “‘You will see it with your own eyes,’ answered Elisha, ‘but you will not eat any of it!'” (2Kgs 7:2c, NIV2)
Nearby, the fulfillment of this prophesy was coming to fruition when four men with leprosy decided to go for a stroll outside the city walls. Their logic was impeccable: “Why stay here until we die?” (2Kgs 7:3c, NIV2) They decided to go to the enemy’s camp where at least they would find food. Not only were these beggars the enemy, but due to their leprosy, they were also outcasts of society. They concluded: “If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”” (2Kgs 7:4c, NIV2) In other words, they felt they had a better chance of survival with the enemy!
At dusk they crossed over to the enemy camp. Surprised that there was no noise, they found it completely empty from any human presence. These lepers didn’t know that “the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’ So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.” (2Kgs 7:6-7, NIV2)
Imagine that, this huge army running for their lives from an imaginary enemy! Only God could orchestrate something like that!
These lepers literally had themselves a feast. They ate and drank to their heart’s content, and they took silver, gold and clothes and hid them. Used to being shunned by others, they were the only ones who not only had food for years on end, but who obtained substantial wealth as well.
Soon they realized that they were being a bit too selfish. After all, the inhabitants of their own city were starving to death and shaking in fear of their ruthless enemy, not knowing that the enemy had evaporated into nothingness. They concluded: “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” (2Kgs 7:9, NIV2)
What happens when we bring good news to doubters? Yes, they will continue to doubt! The king thought it was a subterfuge, a plot for their own destruction. He could imagine several scenarios of how the enemy would turn this into their own victory! (See verse 12)
Still, what if this were true? The king could sure spare the lives of a few meager soldiers and so he decided to send two chariots with horses after the Aramean army. The good news message was postponed because of doubt!
The evidence was quite clear though: “They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king.” (2Kgs 7:15, NIV2)
Only then were the people allowed to raid the camp for the provisions they so dearly needed. They would survive this after all. God had come through, even though the King and his commanders had doubted.
The officer who had openly doubted God found himself trampled to death by the people whose only thought was food. Doubt is deadly! It can and will separate us from the One who provides. Indeed our Father in heaven does provide for all of our needs. We may lose our job, our belongings, and still somehow we survive, thanks to our Father coming through for us. We may lose our best friend, our spouse, and sure it hurts, still God will come through for us!
Doubt, however, will prevent us from experiencing God fully.
It becomes even worse when we doubt about sharing the Good News message. Literally there are millions dying from spiritual depravation. They hunger, but they don’t know what they are hungering for. They feel empty inside and have no idea how to fill this emptiness, except by pursuits that lead to more emptiness.
We doubt because there is a possibility that we will be ridiculed. After all, what would people think of us? Doubting our mission will cause huge consequences. The hopeless will continue to be depressed, the addicts will continue to remain in bondage. The joyless will continue to be sad. The doubters will continue to doubt. What a tragedy!
May we come to the same conclusion as these 4 lepers: “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.” (2Kgs 7:9a, NIV2)
Aren’t we tired of hopping from one train to another?
(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)