Awake Lord! Why Do You Sleep?
I don't always feel close to God.
I frequently do things I wish I hadn't done.
I have moments when I struggle to have the kind of faith I ought to have.
There are days when I wonder what God is up to.
Sometimes I have doubts about my beliefs.
I also understand that for some people it might seem a bit off-putting to read these sentences, and realize they are written by a pastor. After all, pastors are supposed to be professional Christians, right?
Except we're not.
We're just like everyone else when it comes to struggles with faith and doubt. But I've discovered a few things over the years. There are basically two ways that people respond when I reveal that I sometimes struggle to have faith: They feel relieved or they become angry.
People that feel relieved typically respond out of gratitude--they are grateful that they aren't alone in their doubts, and even more grateful that a pastor would admit to feeling the same way from time to time.
They get that it doesn't give them license to throw Christianity as a whole into question, but it does give them strength to wade through the doubt to the other side.
Bu there are also people who become angry when they hear about my struggles. I've been told more than once that it's "not right" for a pastor to say such things to his congregation, and that I should lead people to faith, not doubt.
When you read the Bible, however, you quickly discover that it's full of doubt-filled songs, poems, prayers, declarations, prophecies and the like. Take Psalm 44, for example. The singer has some questions for God in the midst of a time of suffering:
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
There's nothing wrong with doubting. There is nothing wrong with having an off day or two when it comes to your faith that God has a plan for your life. In fact, it's completely natural. But even in the middle of those low moments, my prayer for you is the same one I find myself praying in those same low moments.
"Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."
The psalmist who wrote Psalm 44 feels loss, emptiness and struggles with doubt. Yet, he doesn't give up completely. There is a shred of faith left in his heart, and it is enough for the Almighty. "Rise up and help us," the singer proclaims, "rescue us because of your unfailing love."
It is because of God's unfailing, never-ending, unconditional love that even in the worst moments we can hold on and believe.
May you be filled with the knowledge of God's great love for you--love that never fails. May you find even in your struggles the ability to cling to that love and know that you are not alone. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.