The Contagion of Doubt

Things aren’t always as they seem, or as we expect or want them to be. We see with human eyes. Another’s doubt drifts like smoke to cloud our own thinking. Is my hope a mirage? Am I misleading myself, convincing myself of a truth that crumbles as soon as it is touched?

Suddenly, all the solid stones I have found underfoot along the way have sunk below the ground of the mind, all the miraculous answers to prayer, the immediate and soul-satisfying comforts of the Holy Spirit in answer to the heart’s cry, the earth-shaking knowledge that He alone is God and there is no other. All seems to disappear in the haze.

All that is left is fluid soil such as that soil that rolled in waves [1] during the New Madrid earthquake in 1811-12, a quake that affected greater physical repercussions than the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. During New Madrid’s quake, wrong ideas about its meaning caused fear and contributed heavily to the “natives v. settlers” upheaval already taking place. Fear breeds doubt and doubt breeds fear. They go hand in hand.

On my knees in prayer, “I am the good Shepherd” and “My sheep hear My voice” came to mind and a great physical comfort washed over me. Not because of the words, but with the words. It was not my mind repeating some mantra of man’s making. The Source of those words was speaking them to my heart and mind directly in answer to my prayer. Rising after some time, I opened my Bible and found those words again in John 10 (see Bible Study below). Praising the Lord, my faith was bolstered, my heart overjoyed.

Merely a week later, my heart entered another dark time of soul. Again, John 10.

Am I hearing the voice of the Shepherd? Due to the solace my heart and mind finds, the assurance of reality that more than satisfies my intelligence, and the effects on my heart for honest correction of soul, and repentance and calm repose that only true forgiveness brings, I am convinced the voice is not my own; I am indeed hearing the voice of the Shepherd.

Does this convince anyone else? Nope. “It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me” the old song goes [2]. My soul is grieved for those who not only doubt but insist on their doubt, who never step out and prove the Lord in their own heart. They suffer needlessly the pains and confusion of this world without the remedy that is offered them. Doubt is a personal thing and each person has their timetable before the Lord. But oh, that these would come, taste and see that the Lord is good and His love endures forever!

I praise the Lord that though doubt comes to me as freely as the wind blows, it does not keep harbor in my soul. My God has revealed Himself to me, as He has promised He will reveal Himself to any who seek Him with all their heart:

“But if [from the land of your separation from me] you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul…For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath….Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:29, 31, 39).

Sheep in pasture, Loch Lomond area, Scotland
Photo by ReadPsalm119.com

FOOTNOTES:

[1] known as soil liquefaction

[2] “My Faith has Found a Resting Place“, hymn lyrics by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920), and sung in this YouTube video by Mark Miller (lyrics on screen) (YouTube; 2:46 min.). Please see hymnal.net for musical scores and chord charts.

BIBLE STUDY: (3 study links to BibleGateway.com)

Deuteronomy 4 (Moses speaks God’s words to the Israelites before they crossed into the Promised Land)

Jeremiah 29 (Jeremiah speaks God’s words of hope to the exiles from Jerusalem in Babylon;

“Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD. This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,‘ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity'” (Jer. 29:8-14a).

John 10 (Our New Testament fulfillment of God’s promise in Christ Jesus! Behold, He is coming again! Acts 1:11; Matthew 24:31-33; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4; Revelation 22:20)

(As a note from me, see the doubt of those who stood in Christ's presence.  Some will not believe even when they see with their physical eyes. Seeing (i.e., physical or intellectual proof) is not always believing. Some, however, are convinced in the intelligence of their heart and are changed by their belief.)

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon.Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims

22 Then came the Festival of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[d]35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apartas his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

Footnotes:

  1. John 10:9 Or kept safe
  2. John 10:22 That is, Hanukkah
  3. John 10:29 Many early manuscripts What my Father has given me is greater than all
  4. John 10:34 Psalm 82:6

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Many thanks to BibleGateway.com!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.