Faith is essential because it’s required for our salvation. However, even after accepting Christ, believers are to continue living by faith. Some of us may have great faith while others have only a little. But we can also be characterized by wavering faith—up one day, down the next. Genuine faith is the confident conviction that God will do what He promised. However, if we take our eyes off Him and start looking at our circumstances, our confidence in Him could start to wobble. We will all experience situations like this because the Lord tests our faith in order to make it stronger.
The short book of James contains practical advice for those whose faith fluctuates because of difficult circumstances (1:1-8). When we start doubting, we’re driven and tossed about like the surf of the sea. James says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways and should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. To be double-minded is to go back and forth in our thinking. We may begin with strong confidence in God, but as time goes by and the difficult situation continues, we may start to doubt that He will do what He’s promised.
How do we deal with doubts? When we face situations that cause our faith to falter, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
Where do these doubts come from?
Has God ever failed me in the past?
Didn’t the Lord promise to meet all my needs (Phil. 4:19)?
Did He give me the Holy Spirit to enable me to believe Him and do whatever He requires of me (John 16:13)?
Did He not promise to be with me at all times (Heb. 13:5)?
Is anything too difficult for God?
Will my unbelief cost me a lifetime of regret?
Doubting and questioning are not necessarily the same thing. Questioning is seeking to gain further information or understand whether we’re accurately hearing from the Lord. Doubting, on the other hand, involves believing what we think, see, or feel rather than what we know God has said.
It’s natural for us to question or doubt when we’re suddenly overwhelmed by a distressing event. The Lord understands our struggle and wants us to come to Him with our pain and confusion. We may have to take time to pray, listen, and evaluate before we know what He’s saying. Sometimes God has to correct our thinking by reminding us of His truth or His past faithfulness to us. When we bring our thoughts back into proper alignment, our faith will begin to rise again.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Why Do We Waver in Our Faith?” which airs this weekend on TV.