There is a song that has come out in the past year or so by Laura Story entitled “Blessings.” It has been a tremendous encouragement to many people I know. The lyrics are as follows:
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We gravitate towards this song because of its inspirational nature. It brings us face to face with the healing, protection and comfort we all lack but desperately need. Then it gives us the answer.
But what if we hear this song and wonder if it’s actually true? What if we think of our own problems and hardships as we hear this song, and it causes us to become cynical? What if raindrops are simply raindrops? What if tears are wasted? What if a thousand sleepless nights lead simply to despair?
I would like to submit that while this response certainly isn’t ideal, it has been the response of Christians throughout the Bible, and it does not necessarily signify a lack of faith.
- Abraham responded this way.
In Romans 4 he is set up as an example of faith. Romans 4:19-20 says, “19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”
Yet, let’s go back to the passage in Genesis that this account refers to. When it seemed impossible for Sarah to give him a son, Abraham turned to his servant Hagar in order to have a child (Gen. 16:1-6). When God told Abraham again when he was 99 years old that he was going to have a son, Abraham fell on his face and laughed (Gen. 17:17).
2. David responded this way.
In a numbers of psalms David questions God. He struggles to trust, and he doubts God’s protection, power and provision. Frequently, David follows his discouragements with an inspiring discourse on God’s faithfulness. Yet, in other psalms David doesn’t come back to reassure himself of God’s character. He begins and ends in doubt and questioning. Perhaps he fell asleep with no assurance and awoke feeling no better. Whatever the case some psalms don’t end on the mountaintop, or even on the plain; they end in the valley.
3. Peter responded this way.
At one point in Jesus’ ministry when he was teaching some hard truths, many in the crowd of people who had been following him began to desert him. Jesus turned to the 12 disciples and asked them whether they were going to walk away as well. Peter responded by saying, “To whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” His response did not indicate he knew all the answers and had everything figured out. He simply knew he couldn’t walk away.
I think any one of us would be honored to have our name included in this brief list of men. Abraham, David and Peter, all great men of the Scripture. Yet, they all responded in doubt and questioning at some points. We could even extend the list to include many others: Job in his affliction, Paul and his thorn in the flesh, the father who believed but needed help in his unbelief.
What do these responses tell us about doubt? They tell us we are safe simply being ourselves before God. Even at low points when songs and biblical truths should encourage us but fail to do so, God accepts us. He listens to us, and we remain in his care. They tell us that if the Bible sets up these men as examples of faith despite their doubt, then our doubts do not exclude us from having faith. Indeed, for some certainty and faith is most acutely forged in the fires of doubt. For some, it can be no other way.