How God Responds to My Doubts
“4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 6 “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:4-8 NIV
When the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and called him at a young age to speak out for God as a Prophet, Jeremiah’s answer is similar to what many people would say today. He was quick to come up with a “But God…” list.
But God…“I do not know how to speak.”
But God…“I am too young.”
Like Moses, Jeremiah was quick to recognize his faults and shortcomings as reason that God should choose someone else to call. It is interesting to see how God responds to Jeremiah’s doubts (because this is often how He will respond to our doubts).
When Jeremiah raises a doubt and lifts up his “buts” to God, the Lord does not provide a nice packaged answer to his problem. Instead God gives a promise to be embraced.
That is interesting.
God doesn’t answer doubts and questions with answers (as we would like for Him to). He answers our doubts and questions with promises. God’s response to Jeremiah’s doubt was not a promise that things would go smoothly. He did not promise that Jeremiah would have a flourishing ministry, lots of money and popularity if he were obedient to the Lord. The Lord did not promise that Jeremiah would have a “peace that surpasses understanding” or that the serving Him would bring great fulfillment and joy. Instead, the Lord speaks a promise to Jeremiah that He spoke to His people throughout the scriptures. “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you…” v 8.
In the midst of doubt and questions, God doesn’t offer answers, He promises His presence.
Need more evidence? I’m sure Isaac had questions and doubt when he was beginning his journey without his father Abraham and had only God to depend on for direction, God promised… “24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” Genesis 26:24 NIV
Jacob must have had some questions for God when he was feeling afraid and abandoned after he received a blessing from God rather than his brother Esau, and he needed to go on the run. God promised… “14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:14-15 NIV (emphasis mine)
When God called Moses, Moses did not hide his feelings of inadequacy and fear to go before Pharaoh. God promised… “And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12 NIV (emphasis mine)
When Joshua was nervous as he was going to take the mantle of leadership from Moses (Who wouldn’t freak out taking a leadership spot previously held by Moses?) and lead God’s people to the Promised Land, God promised… “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV (emphasis mine)
I’m sure the disciples had a ton of questions and were unsure about what they were supposed to do next after Jesus had just been crucified and resurrected. Jesus didn’t give them many answers. He simply gave them a promise… “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV (emphasis mine)
In the most challenging seasons of life, I am learning that I don’t need answers from God, as much as I need more of the presence of God in my life. The lesson God is teaching me today is that when problems arise, I typically seek answers and solutions (after all, I am a goal oriented person). The word shows me that instead of seeking answers and solutions, I ought to seek more of God’s presence.
Holy Spirit, I seek to be more and more in Your presence. I don’t need answers as to why things happen the way they do. I need more of Your presence in my life to empower me to overcome all that comes my way. Amen.