Am I a doubter? I was reading in James this morning during my coffee time. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 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. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:2-8).
Today I couldn’t skim past this verse. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to pause and listen to His voice. In areas where the waiting for change has become long, have I stepped out of trust in His promises and moved into doubting His presence in the midst of them? Am I a doubter? Have I been listening to words entertaining the lie that “things will never change?” When I get stuck in that kind of mindset, I have moved out of kingdom possibilities. Resting with peace during a situation that has not shifted is very different than engaging with a mindset of hopeless resignation. An earthly mindset will lead me to strive to control those around me out of fear and end in bitter roots forming in my heart…this is not life controlled by the spirit. It is a matter of trusting who the Father is and where I root my identity.
Our present circumstances do not alter the character of the Father. God is still God! I need to believe that God is in the business of restoration. Full restoration. Always. God is good even if what is happening is hard. The nature of God, the qualities and character of Jesus don’t shift and shake in response to my circumstances. He is stable, consistent, unswervingly focused in love. His character, presence and desire for my good are not changing…it is my emotions that shift, my needs and desires that are the “shifting shadows,” but even then, the Fathers love for me doesn’t change. He doesn’t love me more or less based on how I behave. What is more challenging is knowing the truth that He is as invested in loving those I find, humanly, challenging to love. Thankfully, He has empowered me to accomplish the work He has set before me when I yield to Him, receive His grace and react with a kingdom kind of love.
I know I have partnered with the enemy when I believed the lie that a present challenge,… a past hurt, or an offending word could not be overcome by the redeeming work of the Holy Spirit. In that mindset, I am the victim of the circumstance not the overcomer that God has created me to be. My identity is not rooted on earth, but in heaven. Thank you, Father for that truth!
In Hebrews 3, Paul references an unbelieving heart as “sinful.” “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in the Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’ …So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (12-15, 19). Doubting that the Father can work, or that He is at work even if I don’t see change, is rooted in unbelief.
In responding to this gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit, seeing a weary seed of “unbelief” has crept into my heart, I quickly repented and turned away from that mindset. Can I yet consider it great joy to suffer trials? Well, my Father and I are working on that! So thankful for the promise of blessing in verse 12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”