Fear and Doubt

This morning the newspaper read that today had the highest daily death toll in Spain: 738. In all in Spain the Coronavirus had claimed over 3,434 lives, an even greater number than in China. But there is still more. The news talked about shortages, hunger, isolation, boredom and loneliness. Clearly, the pandemic has touched us all.
Under these circumstances are you beginning to doubt God and his goodness? If so, you’re in good company. Well-known Christian pastor and writer Max Lucado admits to having moments of doubt—particularly on Sunday mornings as he is about to face his congregation and give a sermon. At times such as these he fears his faith might be a delusion. He fears that the universal “why” might not have an answer; he fears a “pathless life”; he fears that “the status quo might be as good as it gets.” (1)
Perhaps you are feeling a little lost and alone. You may be elderly and frail and living on your own; you may be a lone parent with many bored and hungry children to look after; you may be cooped up with people who grate on you; you may suffer from any one of a myriad of mental illnesses. Clearly, for all of you in these situations life is hard.
Jesus’ disciples felt lost and alone as they gathered in the upper room after his crucifixion. But at least they had each other, and before long they had Jesus himself. The body of Christ, the Church, is one of the best antidotes to loss of faith. Although we are trying our best to support one another in this mess, you might still feel very much on your own, fearing what lies ahead—and fear leads to doubt.
Another antidote to fear and doubt is a turning to scripture. In word and deed Jesus continually directed his followers to banish their worries. Take, for example John 14:1, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” Or Matthew 6: 25, 27, ”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
On the topic of doubt, we will consider a little story of a famous atheist who was known as “Jack”. Jack was a stellar student at Oxford, excelling in every field he turned his attention to. Eventually he was made a don. Regardless of all the honours and acclaim he received, he could not escape the conclusion that life was meaningless and that thought made him feel angry, pessimistic and depressed. At one and the same time he “maintained that God did not exist and he was angry with God for not existing.” (2)
Nonetheless, on the advice of two colleagues, Jack began to read the New Testament, initially to prove to himself what rubbish it was. To his surprise he was taken with the figure of Christ and he eventually reached the point where it seemed clear to him that Jesus was either “deluded, deceptive or the very one he claimed to be, the Son of God.” (3)
One evening, Jack, in the company of his two colleagues—who were, in fact, J R R Tolkien and H V V Dyson– took a long stroll through the Oxford campus where they “rehashed the claims of Christ and the meaning of life.” (4) That autumn night, 19 September 1931, there was a sudden breeze that caused the first leaves to fall and C S “Jack” Lewis came to faith shortly after.
What caused C S Lewis, this diehard atheist, to turn to Christ? It would appear that the combination of reading the scriptures and being in the company of two people from the body of Christ made all the difference.
So, if you are cooped up at home, gripped with fear and doubt, phone a believing friend and consult the book of life—the Bible. Review the stories of Abraham and Joseph in Genesis; pore over the history of Moses and the Israelites in Exodus, review the words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels and read the guidance of the Apostle Paul and others in the Book of Acts and the Epistles.
One might imagine that it would be lovely if God were like a genie—you could simply rub a lamp and be granted wishes. But our God is greater than that. True, sometimes you have to wait; sometimes you might receive something other than what you have asked for, but God loves to hear your prayers in any case. He wants you to share your hopes and fears and your daily walk with him.
God really is good and you may encounter him in many of the hundreds and thousands of hospital and careworkers and in the 600,000 newly self-identified volunteer workers who are making such a difference in the difficult situation in which we find ourselves.
Passages from the Bible as shown in the text.
Passages from Max Lucado, (2009), Fearless. Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson.
1. Page 138.
2. Page 145.
3. Page 146.
4. Page 146.

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