Monday, June 1, 2020

Doubt versus faith? No! Doubt strengthens faith

April 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Latest News

A message from Rev Alistair McLeod.
Reading for today: John 20 verses 19 to 31.
One of the greatest the freedoms we have as Christians is to admit when we have doubts. As faithful Christians, we can question concerning our faith.
For some, doubt is seen as a lack of faith, but doubt and faith are two sides of the same coin. They are the heads and tails, of the Christian life.
Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is a part of faith. Rather than ignore our doubts, we should explore them; allow them to set us on a journey of discovery. In our Gospel reading today, Thomas asked for proof, and we also want proof as well that our faith is not in vain.
Thomas is often seen as wrong for doubting the resurrection of Jesus; however, he was no more doubtful than the other disciples and apostles.
The other disciples didn’t believe that Jesus had risen until he appeared to them, so why should we expect Thomas to be any different?
Thomas was well aware that Jesus wasn’t the first messianic figure on the scene to be crucified by the Roman occupiers. In fact, he showed great rational doubt. But when Jesus appeared to him, Thomas proclaimed without reservation, “My Lord, and my God.”
Doubt can be a wonderful tool that takes us into deeper learning, earnest soul searching, and spiritual revelation. Faith based on absolute certainty can lead to fanaticism, but faith tempered with doubt is more measured and I believe more stable.
Many believers struggle with their own doubts brought about by life’s unpredictability and tempestuous nature. We have very real struggles in our lives right now that generate an uncertainty about where God is to be found in all the turmoil. And such is at this time of uncertainty and imposed inactivity.
Recently when really fed up with the present having to keep apart from family and friends in order to fight this unseen enemy, I was watching a documentary about the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. A very old lady was interviewed and she began to talk about her journey to the camp in a cattle truck without windows, water or sanitation; she wasn’t alone but had about seventy others crammed alongside her – she said that the journey had taken many weeks. That short interview made me sit up, take note and get on with what lies before us.
Henri Nouwen, a great theologian wrote, “So I am praying while not knowing how to pray. I am resting while feeling restless, at peace while tempted, safe while still anxious, surrounded by a cloud of light while still in darkness, in love while still doubting.”
Despite Nouwen’s own struggle with doubt, he was able to mentor and encourage countless thousands through his writings, lectures, and sermons. One particular quote from a book of his has been a lifeline for many who have found themselves overcome with the waves of life’s stormy doubts: “Have the courage to trust that you will not fall into an abyss of nothingness, but into the embrace of a God whose love can heal all your wounds.”
Faith is a daily, ongoing exercise. Faith doesn’t take away our doubts. But by facing and asking questions we are strengthened by them.
Have faith that we will survive this pandemic and we will eventually be able to get back together in church to worship and give thanks to God together.
God bless you all.
Alistair

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