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That Real Place

I imagine you’ve struggled with feeling distant from God. Empty. Lost in a sea of messages insisting the God you set your heart on won’t be found.

Doubt sets in as you grieve the loss of that mountaintop feeling—the one that made you excited to follow Jesus. Now the loneliness of the valley makes you wonder if the feeling you long for came from your imagination rather than your memory.

Today I’m excited to share a post from the teenage daughter of a friend of mine. I pray you will see yourself through her transparency. More than that, I pray you will see your God.

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That Real Place

By Alia Dyke

 “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

So lately, my heart has been far from where it was created to be. From where it belongs… And when you’re far from where you belong you get homesick and lonely, you crave that place of belonging. I didn’t blame that on anyone but me and I tried and tried to sit down and focus on Jesus. To actually take away something when I read my Bible. To feel something… And I just didn’t. I was far enough away from the place I belong that I didn’t know how to get back.

I am writing this post from that place. That place of being lost. It’s a real place.

Over the time period of my heart trying to stay above the waves of the world that were constantly pulling me right back down, Jesus never stopped pursuing me. He never stopped loving me. He never stopped speaking to me. It’s just that sometimes when someone is speaking to you and you are caught up in yourself, you don’t hear anything they say until after the fact.

Knowing Jesus is there but feeling nothing… That is a real place.

My day to day life was me trying so hard to feel the closeness of Jesus, but being too caught up in my feelings to do that.

One thing Jesus spoke to my heart time and time again is that it isn’t about how I feel. He is still God and He is still good. If I feel happy, sad, lost, confused, loved, lonely… He is still God, and He is still good.

Who knew you could be so caught up in your own feelings to feel Jesus.

When we feel distant from God we try so hard to feel something. We try to connect to a good worship song and feel his nearness. We try to read a verse that we know we like because maybe we will feel the way we did the first time it was read. We try to sit outside with our Bibles in hand and feel his peace. We try to go to church so that hopefully we will hear a message that just relates to our life.

That place where all you do is want is to feel something, that is a real place.

But what if we are trying too hard to feel? What if human nature is all about feelings. And Jesus’ nature is not.

So, I sat down and read Psalm 121 without trying to feel anything. I put on worship music and didn’t listen to it just to feel something. I wanted to be still and know that even when I don’t feel close to God he is still God and he is still good.

That place of sitting and knowing God is good no matter how you feel, that became a real place for me.

And you know what? He met me in that real place. Just like he met me in every other real place. I wasn’t overcome with emotion, I didn’t hear an audible voice, or even feel a change in my heart. I told myself that whether I felt anything or not I would sit knowing that God is good.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, From where does my help come? My help comes from The Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Who am I to doubt God simply because I cannot feel him? He meets you where you are. In every place.

God says be still and know. Not be still and feel.

God says be still and know. Not be still and feel. Click To Tweet

So I sat and knew that He is good. I didn’t sit trying to feel His goodness. And He met me there. And I felt him.

After sitting and knowing, I felt.

And He said to me, “my daughter, it is only from knowing me that you can feel me.”

Week 8: Equipped for Your Calling

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have the ability to do what you feel God is calling you to do? I can relate! Doubt has a way of derailing us from experiencing the wonder of God at work in our lives. Today God wants to shift your focus off of your inability and onto His great ability.

Click here to print the prepared note sheet for this video.

Watch the Video

Week 8 Assignment

Complete Days 3-5 of Week 4 in your workbook.

Additional Suggestion:

Ask God to show you opportunities where you can exercise faith and trust Him. When doubt tempts you to turn back, choose to stand on God’s promises… I AM, I can, I will.

 

Approaching Glory

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

Do you ever have moments when darkness seems to engulf you? When it becomes so thick and heavy you find it hard to remember the warmth of the light?

I do. They don’t come frequently, but they do come. Sometimes things just don’t play out like I hoped they would. And in those moments of darkness, doubt takes over. It tries to convince me that the God who loves me has abandoned me.  Forsaken me.

Ever been there? I’m guessing you have. You and I won’t follow Jesus for very long without facing some kind of adversity.

I wish I could tell you that once you step into the Light and give your life to Jesus you’ll never feel the touch of darkness. But I can’t. Jesus doesn’t promise an end to trouble on your path to abundant life. He promises the means to overcome it (John 16:33).

Beloved, there will be moments when adversity comes against you that you will feel abandoned by God. The logic of your circumstances won’t align with what you committed to believe by faith, and the enemy will do all he can to convince you that God has forsaken you. After all, he is the deceiver and the father of lies (John 8:44).

I’d like to ask you to consider another possibility. What if, in those moments of greatest darkness, God has never been closer? What if He is so near He must shield your eyes from viewing Him to protect you from His closeness? And as you trust Him through the darkness and the first streams of light begin to filter into view, you will glimpse His glory like you’ve never seen it before.

How can I make such a statement? It happened to Moses.

“When my glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:22-23

These words of God came in response to Moses’ bold request, “Now show me your glory” (verse 18). God responded by saying, “I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.” (Verse 19)

Beloved, will you consider with me that in moments of great darkness, perhaps God has hidden you in the cleft of the Rock to shield you from His approaching glory? As He covers you with His protective hand, the darkness appears thickest, yet He is nearest. While the enemy whispers that God has forsaken you, He is actually holding you in His grasp, causing all His goodness to pass by and proclaiming His name, the LORD, in your presence.

You see, we cannot see God approaching. We can’t stare head on into the fullness of His glory and survive the experience, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (verse 20).

And so as He draws near to meet us in our need, He covers us with His hand. Darkness looms, not because it’s winning, but because in that moment, we are unable to see the light of His glory. But as it passes by and He removes His protective hand, we have the privilege of seeing His glory as it departs.

Have you ever noticed how you can’t see God’s handprint in a circumstance until after it’s over? In the midst of it, you can’t see Him anywhere, but afterward you begin to recognize His mark all over the place. When that happens, dear one, He has hidden you in the cleft of the Rock and caused His glory to pass by.

Darkness will come, beloved, but so will the glory of your God.

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:1-3

Notice that this isn’t an “if” promise. Adversity will come. If you and I are going to journey with Jesus to the mountain of the Lord, we will pass through swirling rivers and raging waters. We will face the heat of blazing flames. But take heart in this truth, beloved. We will never face them alone. And as we tuck ourselves under the shelter of the Most High, committed to stand on His truth and renounce the enemy’s lies, whatever the enemy brings cannot hurt us. In fact, as we walk on in step with Jesus, trusting His will even when we don’t understand, we set the stage to witness glory.

I pray you have discovered a few truths to stand on when the darkness comes. Let me leave you with one more. Why does God promise to be with us in our difficulties? To walk with us through turbulent waters and raging fires?

I’ll let Him answer.

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” Isaiah 43:4

 

 

Overcome by the Word of Your Testimony

“I am sending you.”

The message penetrated my heart in the middle of worship on Saturday afternoon during our annual women’s conference. An image of my friend who is battling end stage colon cancer flooded my mind.

My lips stopped moving as everything faded, the presence of the Spirit commanding my attention. I knew without doubt He was asking me to go and pray healing over my friend.

I wanted desperately to comply. I would like nothing more than to be a vessel Jesus used to heal her. But in the same moment fear and doubt took hold. Who was I? Nobody. Just a friend…a soccer mom…a Bible teacher. Not a miracle worker.

Do you notice how we tend to focus our eyes on our own inability rather than God’s ability? When God calls us to exercise faith, we make everything about us. But the tasks He appoints have nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with who He is. And in those moments, He asks us to trust. “Will you believe I AM who I say I AM?”

It might be interesting to note the theme of the conference I attended: Empowered by the Spirit. The speaker challenged us to Feed on the Word, Believe the Word, and then Live the Word. What good, after all, is knowledge of the Word if we can’t live it in the everyday? What does Truth mean to us if we don’t believe it and put it into action?

“I am sending you.”

The moment passed and we all settled in to hear the final message from the speaker. I found myself challenged by Revelation 12:10-11,

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

 “Now have come the salvation and the power

and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,

who accuses them before our God day and night,

has been hurled down.

 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony;

they did not love their lives so much

as to shrink from death.”

You’ve probably felt the weight of Satan’s accusations against you. We deal with the burden of his lies every day. But do you see how these brothers and sisters in Christ triumphed over him? By the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Hear me, beloved. Christ’s blood poured out on that cross guaranteed our victory over the enemy. But if you want to experience that victory—if you want to see the glory of God poured out— it isn’t enough to simply rest in the knowledge of what Christ accomplished. You’ve got to live it out. You and I have got to live like the enemy is the defeated foe he is and let the word of our testimony proclaim our victory.

That means we can’t allow Satan to fill our heads with doubt. When God speaks, we must simply believe and take action in faith. The rest is up to Him.

That night I prayed for God to increase my faith. I rose early the next morning and opened the Scriptures, determined to feed on the Word of God and fill myself with His presence. He confirmed His message to me, and I knew I was to go that day. For a moment, I allowed the doubt to creep into my thoughts again. What if it didn’t work? I can’t…

Immediately God spoke, this time bringing a familiar Scripture to remembrance.

 “Go in the strength you have … Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14

I began to weep. I could not deny His message to me, and I determined to believe.

In worship at church that morning, I presented myself to God as a living sacrifice. I confessed my sin, received His forgiveness, and asked Him to anoint my lips with His Word.

After the service I shared my mission with two dear sisters and asked them to pray. One of them asked to accompany me, and we headed together to the home of my friend.

My heart hurt when I saw her lying on the couch. Breathing was difficult due to fluid filling her lungs from the cancer. I bent down to hug her and she began to cry, confessing she felt forgotten and abandoned by God.

I looked into her sweet face and was able to tell her, “He sent me to you. He loves you desperately, and He has not forgotten you.”

I knew in that moment it didn’t matter if I witnessed a miracle that day. God had already provided what my friend needed simply because I showed up. She needed hope. She needed to understand that she was not forsaken. She needed to grasp the height and depth of God’s love.

I read from Ephesians 3:16-21.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I cannot adequately put into words what happened next. The Spirit led us in the sweetest time of prayer I have ever experienced. We laid hands on our friend and prayed as the Spirit moved us. We declared His glory and proclaimed His Truth, surrendering our wills to allow the Spirit in us to pray what she needed. We declared healing, praying for the fluid in her chest to recede. We proclaimed life and invited glory.

Minutes passed unnoticed, and nearly 2 hours had lapsed when we uttered the final amen. His presence was so thick I felt my hands going numb. I didn’t want to move, not wanting to sever the connection we had as we united our hearts in submission to His purpose.

I can’t tell you what the road ahead holds for my friend, dear one. God alone knows what happens next. But I did see Jesus touch her that day, and what a privilege to be the hand that He used.

When we left her, her breathing was less labored and there was pink in her cheeks we didn’t see when we arrived. But above all, she and her husband had hope.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

 

Trading God’s Presence for His Promise

Sometimes life just gets hard. Especially when we find ourselves in the desert.

Hungry. Thirsty. Dying inside. Definitely tired.

You know what I mean. Have you ever set out toward a blessing, believing God for one of His promises, but it seemed to take forever to get there?

And the longer it takes the more doubt sets in. Weariness saps your strength. And when you and I get weary, we get desperate. We’d do anything for a quick fix, an easy way out.

What would you be willing to sacrifice to leave the desert?

Imagine that Jesus were to approach you today and offer to carry you off to heaven to bask in all its blessings  . . .

  • Eternal life without sin
  • Perfect healing and an end to sickness
  • No more sadness, sorrow or tears
  • Mansions and streets of gold
  • Surpassing love and unending joy
  • Transcending peace

But there’s a catch: He wouldn’t go with you. Would you accept it? If you could leave the pain and struggles of this life today, exchanging it for the glories of heaven, but you’d have to go without Jesus, would you go? Would the blessings be enough for you without Jesus to share it with?

I caution you not to answer too hastily. What we know to be the “right” answer doesn’t always mesh with the truth of what lies within our hearts. I know this from experience. When we invite Jesus in on the conversation, we may be surprised at what we discover about ourselves. I was.

Your honest answer to that question will reveal a lot about your heart. Do you seek Jesus, or do you just want the benefit of His promises?

God gave the Israelites a similar offer in Exodus 33. He had miraculously delivered them from their Egyptian captivity and led them to Mt. Sinai. Then while Moses met with God on the mountain, they thanked Him by building and worshiping a golden calf.

God’s response to them may surprise you.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’  I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.  Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” Exodus 33:1-3

Can you imagine? Israel had not been faithful to Him, but God always remains faithful to His word.  And He had made a promise to Abraham that He intended to keep. God would indeed bring the people into the land He promised them, and He wouldn’t send them alone. He would send an angel before them to clear the land of the enemies living on it. They could just walk right in.

God offered Israel an easy path to quick prosperity in the land of milk and honey, as well as a gift of divine power to claim it. It would end their desert hunger and thirst. It almost sounds too good to be true.

It might be. There’s a catch. God Himself wouldn’t be going.

Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. I mean, that’s what we’re after, isn’t it? We want to experience God’s blessings and promises. I wonder how many of us would jump at that opportunity today.

Let’s see how Israel responded.

 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments.  . . . Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:4, 15-16

Dear one, any blessing we might receive from God isn’t worth anything without God Himself. Israel understood that, even with their constant rebellion and habitual lack of faith. God Himself is the reward. They wouldn’t take another step without Him.

What are you really after, dear one? Is Jesus merely the means to an end, or is He the end you’ll pursue by whatever means?

What would you be willing to do, beloved, to truly know God’s presence? Would you trade the easy path in order to know His sufficiency? Would you go to battle to experience the working of His strength? Would you forfeit a miracle and experience loss to truly know His comfort? Is His presence worth whatever encountering it may cost?

Perhaps it’s time to start believing Psalm 84:10,

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Jesus is everything, dear one. He wants to be everything to you.

Living the “Right” Way

I get to humble myself to you today. You see, God’s been revealing some things to me about myself. That’s what happens when you commit to let God be God and pray Psalm 139:23-24,

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Yep, God loves that kind of praying—when we pray His own Word back to Him with a sincere and seeking heart. He’s been answering that particular prayer of mine for the last 15 years.  Funny, after all this time, He hasn’t run out of  “offensive ways” to reveal to me. Thank goodness for His infinite love and patience! Obviously, I’m a work in progress.

I recently started a Bible study exploring modern-day idolatry, Kelly Minter’s “No Other Gods.” I got as far as day 2 when God revealed the latest offensive way He wanted to remove. 2 Kings 17:7 served as the springboard for my revelation.

All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt (emphasis mine).

I’ve taught often on the parallels between God’s deliverance of the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt to our deliverance through Christ from our own areas of spiritual bondage. Over the years, Christ has freed me from many things, but that day’s lesson offered a fresh look based on the wording of that verse. The commentary challenged me to consider anything that represented a “pharaoh” in my life. Did I have anything that exercised power over me other than God?

To be honest, I couldn’t come up with anything. So I did what I always do, knowing my deceptive heart will never give up its gods easily. I prayed, asking Jesus to show me if I did.

It didn’t take long for Him to answer. Five words surfaced clearly in my thoughts. “You need to be right.”

Well, doesn’t everybody?

I pondered the thought for several moments until realization slowly began to dawn. That “need” I had never been able to name had been a destructive factor in my life, displaying itself in several different areas. But the big one was this:

He showed me I felt so driven to be right that I feared ever being wrong. And that fear made me slow to trust Him.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt Jesus prompting me to take a step of faith and let doubt delay my obedience. Good and logical thought convinced me I needed to double-check with God to make sure I heard Him correctly. Like Gideon, I’d set out my fleece time and again to make sure He continued to give me the same answer. He would have to confirm His will to me several times before I’d finally move.

I thought my motives were pure. I wanted be in the heart of God’s will. I wanted to be certain the idea was truly coming from Him and not from me. I didn’t want to inadvertently step outside of His blessing and favor.

I didn’t want to be wrong.

So I would wait. And pray. And wrestle with my thoughts. And stand still.

Apparently, I’d rather remain in limbo than take a step in the wrong direction. Not so bad, right?

But God was trying to show me something. Inadvertently serving this need to be right interfered with my ability to serve Him.

I was behaving as if I didn’t have the relationship with Him that I have been building for the last 15 years. On several occasions in the midst of my doubt He has had to remind me,

“You know my voice.”

And I do. I’ve learned to recognize it. His quiet whisper penetrating the world’s noise has become my lifeline. I know it when I hear it.

Yet I still question it. My compulsive need to be right—my fear of being wrong— still makes me doubt it.  It keeps me wrestling with whether I even heard it. So I don’t move right away when Jesus tells me to. And here’s the truth of it, my friend. Delayed obedience is sin.

I wonder how many times my refusal to move has kept me from a blessing.

2 Kings 17:41 reveals a profound truth:

Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols.

Dear one, just like Israel, you and I can worship Jesus while serving other gods. I did. I was trying to follow Jesus while still serving my need to be right. The power that need maintained in my life interfered with me doing what God was leading me to do. Kind of gives new insight to Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and ________________. “

What do you still serve, dear one, that keeps you from wholeheartedly following Jesus? Are you willing to let God reveal your hidden chains?

I’ll warn you. You may be surprised by what you discover. But if you’re willing to take the journey, you’ll find the path leads to peace.

Show Me Your Glory

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

I have moments when darkness seems to engulf me. They don’t come frequently, but they do come. Sometimes things just don’t play out like I hoped they would. And in those moments, doubt takes over. It tries to convince me that the God who loves me has abandoned me.  Forsaken me.

Ever been there? I’m guessing you have. You and I will not follow Jesus very long before facing the oppression of adversity. When I say follow Jesus, I’m not talking about being a “proper” church going Christian with a pristine Bible and a painted smile. I’m talking about being a true disciple, committed to actively living by faith and trusting Jesus for God’s will instead of your own. The kind of disciple that makes the enemy quake in his boots a bit.

There are moments when that adversity comes when you will feel abandoned by God. The logic of your circumstances won’t align with what you committed to believe by faith, and the enemy will do all he can to convince you that God has forsaken you. After all, he is the deceiver and the father of lies (John 8:44).

I’d like to ask you to consider another possibility. Perhaps in those moments of greatest darkness, God has never been closer. And as you trust Him through the darkness and the first streams of light begin to filter into view, you will glimpse His glory like you’ve never seen it before.

How can I make such a statement?

“When my glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:22-23

These words of God came in response to Moses’ bold request, “Now show me your glory” (verse 18). God responded by saying, “I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.” (Verse 19)

I have chosen to live my life for the glory of the Lord. I want to see His glory poured out, and like Moses I have asked Him to reveal it. I’m pretty certain I haven’t made the enemy happy with that request.

As I walk by faith toward the revelation of His goodness, the enemy seeks to keep me from it. He uses every weapon in his arsenal—deception, fear, doubt—to make me turn back. But as I choose to stand on God’s promises, something beautiful happens. My God hides me in the cleft of the rock and covers me with His hand. In that moment, the darkness is thickest, yet He is nearest. While the enemy whispers that God has forsaken me, He is actually holding me in His grasp, causing all His goodness to pass by and proclaiming His name, the LORD, in my presence.

You see, we cannot see God coming. We can’t stare head on into the fullness of His glory and survive the experience, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (verse 20).

And so as He approaches to meet us in our need, He covers us with His hand. Darkness looms, not because it’s winning, but because in that moment, we are unable to see the light of His glory. But as it passes by and He removes His protective hand, we have the privilege of seeing His glory as it departs.

Have you ever noticed how you can’t see God’s handprint in a circumstance until after it’s over? In the midst of it, you can’t see Him anywhere, but afterward you begin to recognize His mark all over the place. When that happens, dear one, He has hidden you in the cleft of the rock and caused His glory to pass by.

Darkness will come, beloved, but so will the glory of your God.

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:1-3

Notice that this isn’t an “if” promise. Adversity will come. If you and I are going to journey with Jesus to the mountain of the Lord, we will pass through swirling rivers and raging waters. We will face the heat of blazing flames. But take heart in this truth, beloved. We will never face them alone. And as we tuck ourselves under the shelter of the Most High, committed to stand on His truth and renounce the enemy’s lies, whatever the enemy brings cannot hurt us. In fact, as we walk on in step with Jesus, trusting His will even when we don’t understand, we set the stage to witness glory.

I pray you have discovered a few truths to stand on when the darkness comes. Let me leave you with one more. Why does God promise to be with us in our difficulties? To walk with us through turbulent waters and raging fires?

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” Isaiah 43:4

The Crushing Spirit of Doubt

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

At some point, disappointment reaches into every life. No matter how closely we walk with the Lord, its sting can paralyze us. In fact, sometimes the more we have chosen to believe big things of God, the harder we fall when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

Can you relate? Have you ever been so certain one moment and then found yourself reeling with doubt the next?

If so, you’re not alone. I’d wager that all who’ve chosen to live by faith, actively believing God for His promises, have faced a crisis of faith at one time or another. I know I have. If you and I are going to answer God’s call on our lives and trust Him to do extraordinary things through us, we need to know what to do when the crisis hits.

Let’s consider a man who found himself stumbling over his own disappointment—a man about whom Jesus claimed, “I tell you the truth:  Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

You might be interested to know that Jesus spoke those words of John while he was going through his crisis of faith. Don’t you love knowing that God’s opinion of us doesn’t change in our moments of weakness? How He lavishes us in grace!

Let’s take a look at what caused this great man to waver. In answer to God’s call, John had devoted his life to preparing the people of Israel for the coming of their Messiah. He challenged them to repent and return to God, declaring Christ was coming! Then he pointed them to Jesus, knowing Christ had come.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” John 1:29-30

John had no doubt that Jesus was the promised Christ. He had seen the Spirit of God come to rest upon Him like a dove, just as God had told him it would (verses 32-33). Certain of what he knew in his heart, John boldly proclaimed,

“I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:34

And John was right, of course. That same moment that sealed the truth in John’s heart launched the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The Teacher began to unleash the power of God upon the earth, performing miracles and healing the sick.

Yet while Jesus’ ministry kicked into high gear, John found himself in a situation he did not expect. He did not join the throngs of people standing by to witness the fulfillment of what he had prophesied about Christ. Instead, he could only listen to reports of Jesus’ wonders from behind the walls of a dark prison cell.

Can you imagine the seeds of doubt springing up through his disappointment? After all, didn’t Scripture foretell that Messiah would come to set captives free? How hard it must have been to hear about all those miracles Jesus performed for others while experiencing no miracle of his own. For a moment, John wondered if he got it wrong.

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Matthew 11:2-3

Jesus responded by proclaiming the evidence of the miracles themselves, then added,

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Matthew 11:6

Indeed, blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble when Jesus doesn’t do what he expects.

I feel such compassion toward John. My journey thus far has not landed me in a cell, but I too have felt my resolve crumble under the weight of doubt. I know the confusion of shifting from a strong stand of faith to crippling defeat when God’s will for me did not align with my own. It didn’t take long for seeds of doubt to crush my spirit. But in my moment of weakness, I did exactly what John did. I took my doubt to Jesus.

I remember rising early to the sounds of a thundering storm. Fitting, I thought. Nature’s rage echoed the turmoil swirling about in my own mind and heart. I grabbed my Bible and stepped outside onto my covered porch. Taking a seat in my favorite chair, I watched the rain fall, tears flowing, it seemed, in tandem with God’s own.

I cried out to God, my voice barely audible, “I need to hear your whisper on the wind.” Almost immediately, Jesus responded in my heart with three precious words, “I love you.” 

Hope stirred within me, its presence slowly piercing the shroud of doubt. “Is that really you?” And my Jesus in His great mercy repeated Himself, “I love you.”

I felt His presence wash over me from head to toe. Memories flooded my mind of promises made and kept by my Lord. The faith upon which I had stood was no illusion. God’s promises and His plans for me had not changed. He had simply altered my view of them. The Lord drew near to mend my broken heart, infused my crushed spirit with life, and made me ready to stand again. Oh, how I love Jesus.

John never got the earthly rescue he sought from Jesus. Like me, his crying out to God did not alter his circumstances. But Jesus did answer his faithful servant with assurances of truth…the truth that John needed to hear to build his faith…and then the Son of God proclaimed His pleasure over John’s life (Matthew 11:11).

How sweet it must have been to hear what Christ had said when John’s disciples reported back to him. He had not been wrong. The Christ had come. But John himself had prophesied, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). The one called to precede the Messiah had fulfilled his purpose, and Jesus gave him the strength he needed for the last leg of his journey.

Not long afterward, Herod took John’s life. As the executioner’s blade pierced his neck, John breathed his last earthly breath. He took his next breath in the throne room of heaven, face to face with the God he had faithfully served. All doubt erased. Hunger ceased. Pain faded into memory as his being flooded with indescribable love and surpassing joy. You can be sure John never once thought of returning to the desert in which he’d spent his earthly life. He’d finally made it home.

They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.  Psalm 84:7

Are you stumbling in doubt, beloved? Take it to Jesus. He has exactly what you need to make you stand.