Jesus Doesn’t Run Away
I remember my early days in Recovery, keeping so many thoughts and feelings to myself out of fear. At the time I didn’t realize it as such, but I kept what was happening on the inside, inside, and worked as hard as I could to present on the outside what I thought was the correct Christian behavior and thinking. I was so afraid that if I told the truth about my fears, that God would run from me, He would leave, He would be ashamed of me.
It took a lot of time and some helpful confrontations from people who loved me to help me see my self-defeating ways. As long as I kept my personal truth on the inside and never let it out, the truth of Christ would remain only what I perceived it should be, rather than having the living Christ meet my personal truth, and transform it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What does this have to do with doubt? Well, every day we come face to face with opportunities to trust God with showing up for us, or, to rely on our life experience and our own abilities to determine what is the safest and most successful next step. Every moment we encounter that involves an unknown outcome we will experience fear, and every moment we experience fear there is an opportunity to walk in doubt or in faith. Either we trust what we see, what we know, what we have come to understand through what life has taught us, or we trust God, who has spoken through His word, and what He has promised, through faith (not sight, Hebrews 11:1).
I recently spoke with a friend who had fear that sharing about his current struggle and past experiences would bring judgement upon him from others. We talked about how this was a usual fear in his life, and that he had the opportunity either to build faith or doubt in his life. Trust God and what His word says (i.e. I will never leave you nor forsake you, I am with you through the waters, I go before you, behind you, and surround you as a hedge of protection…) or trust ourselves which says, “I must keep myself safe, the world will only hurt me, if I don’t fight for myself no one will, if I’m vulnerable I will be abused”.
So how do we do this? It starts with admitting what we really believe, what our heads and our hearts are saying. Then bringing our fear to Christ, trusting Him to show up. And lastly, embracing God in such a way where we place our life, the outcome of our fears, in the center of His care.
In Mark 9 there is a man who does this with Jesus, his child has been violently oppressed by spiritual forces that seek to take his life. The man looks to Jesus in hopes of finding some form of answer and askes Jesus “If you will, heal my son.” Jesus confronts the man’s doubt and tells him that anything is possible for the one who believes. In his honesty and transparency, he gives his heart to Jesus and says, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus, in His compassion, brings healing upon the man’s son, and shares a lesson with his disciples… Some things, no matter how hard we believe, trust, expect a certain outcome, will not be fulfilled or make any sense outside of prayer. Prayer in our doubt leads us to trust in the one who always comes through.
If you are struggling with doubt, it’s okay. Everything we have experienced and the world around us would tell us it’s not safe to trust, to believe, because it will ultimately end up with me being hurt or disappointed. The good news? In the Gospel we already know what Christ has done. Rather than basing our trust on what might happen, we look at what has already happened in Christ, and we trust Him with our next steps. Are you willing to reach out today? Will you call out “I believe, help my unbelief!”? He is waiting to meet you there, where you are, not where you “should” be. And when you tell Him the truth, He stays, He doesn’t run away.