I’m in 7th grade. My team in P.E. soccer has chosen me, for some bewildering reason, to kick a penalty goal that will win or lose the game. It’s pouring down rain and the field is slick with mud.
I gear up for the kick, fully doubting my ability to make the goal for my team, take several steps toward the ball, and as I swing my foot and kick it, I slip in the muddy grass and fall flat on my back, missing the shot.
If you thought this story was going to end up with me making the goal, putting that doubt to shame, and making my team proud, I’m sorry to disappoint.
I’m no stranger to doubt. When it comes to my faith, I wouldn’t say I’ve doubted that Jesus is real and with me, but I do doubt myself constantly. Often, I doubt myself in the sense that I don’t see myself as worthy – worthy to be chosen by my peers in 7th grade to kick a soccer ball, worthy to be loved by people today, or worthy to be chosen by God to do scary things. I doubt my abilities and, ultimately, my ability to be used by God.
As I’m continually learning more about Christ and growing in my relationship with him, I’m realizing that doubting my ability to be used by Him is just a roundabout way of doubting God himself.
Doubt can be seen as a very negative thing for Christians but, while it is often murky water to walk through, questioning is a very normal part of human nature. I think God wants us to see this, based on the fact that he includes multiple stories in scripture about people who went through periods of doubt, many of whom are now regarded as strong examples of faith.
I relate a lot to the story of Gideon. God wanted to use Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites. Gideon doubted that God could use him to do this, even after God told him, “But I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).
He asks God twice to prove Himself if he is to be used to save Israel. God humors Gideon and passes his tests. Finally strengthened knowing God is with him, Gideon goes on to defeat Midian and save Israel.
I think Gideon is a lot like myself. While my embarrassing story from middle school P.E. isn’t a great example of God using me for something big like Gideon, the idea of doubt is still there. You see, I don’t think it’s just that I doubt God can use me, but it’s that I fear what he’ll want to use me for. I think Gideon was also fearful of being called to the huge task of defeating the Midianites, even though God was the one asking.
We may completely dismiss what God is trying to tell us sometimes, or even laugh like Sarah when God promised her and Abraham a son even in their old age. We may doubt our own abilities (which God gives us). We may doubt that God will heal physical or emotional ailments. We may doubt that he will restore relationships.
But as this story shows, even when we doubt, God still works. He’ll even humor us when we put him to the test, as Gideon did. When we’re losing faith in other people or in ourselves, we need only turn to Christ and put all our faith in him. Instead of asking “Can I do this?” We should be asking “Can God do this?” And then we need to trust God to do his thing.
We can see in the story of Gideon and Abraham and Sarah, and many others, that these times of doubt often lead to a stronger faith in God. He doesn’t admonish us for doubting, but welcomes us to seek him for answers when we’re struggling. It’s comforting to know he works in marvelous ways in us and through us despite our questioning hearts because he is a patient and empathetic God.
Sarah Moreau is a twenty-something who loves hiking, camping, reading, and going on adventures with friends. She works at a homeless shelter for women and children where she teaches, helps women obtain GEDs, guides them in pursuing education or careers, and walks with them through the difficult path of recovery from addiction and life struggles. Sarah has been writing since she was a kid – both for her own enjoyment and for others to read. On her days off, you can find Sarah reading, spending time with her 2-year-old nephew or close friends, hiking, or coming up with a new recipe in the kitchen. You can read more of her work at Problems 31 Women.