1999-04-15 - Doubt and Restoration
Mark 9:23-24 And Jesus said to him,"' If You can!' All things are possible to him who believes." 24 Immediately the boy's father cried out and began saying, "I do believe; help my unbelief." (NASB)
There are things that happen to us in this life that batter our faith to its foundations. The sudden death of a child, spouse or cherished friend descends. The blow comes and our entire world rattles violently. There are dry times, when Jesus seems a thousand miles away. Our prayers seem to bounce back off the walls and ceiling and go nowhere. Then there are times when we falter and stumble so badly, like Peter the night of Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin, where that failure looms so large that it is easy to believe that the Lord could never use us or trust us again. When doubt settles in, it can tear at our soul like a raging bear. The gnawing in our head and our heart seems as though it will never cease. The vision of his son so attacked his mind that the father cries out, "...help my unbelief."
All these things are based on circumstance and emotion. Circumstances are often uncontrollable from our viewpoint. Of course, God is in control of all things. Emotions are fickle and deceptive and utterly untrustworthy. Things often look darkest when we are tired or guilt-ridden or emotionally spent. These are times when the enemy will do his level best to tell us that we are no good and God is done with us. That we've finally been put up on the shelf this time. This is hardly time to do this kind of evaluation with our emotions in such turmoil. On the other hand God is totally trustworthy. If we will walk with Him through these dark times, He will not lead us astray. The road may be hard, but it will be sure.
Peter boasted more than once, that he would rather die with Jesus than deny his Lord. Even when the Creator of the Universe warned him that Peter would, not might, betray Jesus, Peter stood and affirmed his promise. When it came down to it, Peter had just denied Jesus the third time, the cock crowed just as Jesus had predicted. Peter and Jesus met eye to eye. Peter's heart was crushed, and he went out and wept bitterly. The word there expresses convulsions, or body-wracking sobs. Peter was alone and he had just failed his Master in the very thing he had proudly boasted he would never do - repeatedly. He was inconsolable.
Luke 24:34 saying, "The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon." (NASB)
After Jesus appeared to Mary and the women in the Garden of Gethsemane, he appeared to Peter alone. The two from the Emmaus road had run back to Jerusalem, claiming that Jesus had appeared to Peter specifically. Why would Jesus make the special audience for the burley fisherman? Peter was in great need of restoration. Peter was so convinced that Jesus would never use him again that he had decided to go back to his fishing business. I can well imagine that Peter hung his head at the appearance of the Lord, expecting to be dismissed.
Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." (NASB)
Jesus knows our frames are simply dust. He knows how utterly frail and weak we really are. The mighty Apostle Peter was no different than we are now. Jesus knew Peter would fail miserably that night - in cowardly fear of his mortal life. Jesus had warned Peter. But, just like us, Peter knew better. His confidence in his own strength was his downfall. Jesus did not come with a club to beat his fallen friend. He came with love and encouragement to the broken-hearted disciple. Mary should not have been at the tomb with spices to embalm a dead body. The Lord had promised He would rise on the third day. Did Jesus scold her for her lack of faith? No. His voice filled with compassion at her grief said, "Mary …", and she clung to Him for joy.
The simple truth is that we all will doubt from time to time, to varying degrees and about different things, regarding our Christianity. It is part of the growth process. In the end, when we have turned again to Jesus, our faith will be stronger. God is utterly trustworthy in all His ways. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. Know that if you are the one lamb that has wandered off, He will leave the ninety-nine safely kept to find you.
Rom 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "That Thou mightiest be justified in Thy words, and mightiest prevail when Thou art judged." (NASB)
Jesus - when we can not see You through our pain and tears, remind us of your promises to us. You will never leave or forsake us. Guard our hearts and minds with the truth that assures us that we are Yours and You are in control. Amen.