Thursday, July 16, 2009

Faith and doubt

Today I read something in the Bible that I'd never noticed before. I love when that happens. I found it in Jude 3:22 (TNIV), "Be merciful to those who doubt..." That struck something deep within me. Doubt and faith are so closely intertwined for me that they seem inseparable. They are the yin and yang of Christianity. A seed of one always lies within the other. Within doubt there is the desire to believe in something. Within faith always lies a question.

For years I saw questions and doubts as a sin, an unwillingness to embrace God. That gradually morphed into seeing doubt as a personal weakness, more of a flaw than an intentional act of disobedience. I've come to see doubts and questions as a way I've grown. This transition is an evidence of mercy in my own life.

Mercy is one of those words that is so familiar that we don't think twice about its meaning. That's why I wanted to look it up. I found kindness, compassion, clemency, being humane, an unwillingness to cause pain. There was also being lax, indulgent and soft. I wasn't too fond of those. My favorite definition though was providing relief. A person cannot remove another's doubts, but they can make it easier for them to continue on despite them.

I've come to see faith as akin to courage. As courage does not mean the absence of fear, faith is not the absence of doubt. It is action in the presence of fear and doubt that marks the presence of both courage and faith. Fear and doubt are supposed to be weaknesses, but I'm reminded that God uses the weak and foolish things of this world. Without them, could either faith or courage grow?


Blogger Meg said...

Very VERY good post. Thanks for putting it into words.

July 17, 2009 11:10 AM  
Blogger redsneakz said...

Let me turn this inside out a little bit (from the Jewish perspective, natch). On the one hand, we have a G-d of strict justice, the G-d who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. On the other hand, we have the G-d of mercy, who "let" some grave sins pass by without punishment. In the middle, we have the G-d of compassion. And how is this? True compassion is giving someone what they truly need; it's justice TEMPERED by mercy - or mercy tempered by justice.

August 09, 2009 12:42 PM  

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