Christ is Risen! He Has Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
It is Easter season here at Alpine (yes Easter is a whole season not just one day. It lasts for 50 days). During Easter we celebrate the resection of Jesus and the life it unleashes into us. I always find it weird then that the first two Sundays after Easter we always read the stories of 1) Thomas the apostle and 2) The two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. Two stories about doubt and disappointment. What gives? Isn’t this supposed to be a season of happiness? Why then begin with these two stories that focus on how hard it is to believe and follow Jesus? Why not something a little more uplifting? I think that that answer lies in the very important truth that some of the biggest barriers to experiencing the power of the resurrection in our lives are the doubts that are created by deep seated disappointments that we have with God.
One of the best books that I have ever read on this subject is “Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud.” by Phillip Yancy. In this book the author tackles three important questions: “Is God unfair? Is God silent? Is God hidden?” Yancy writes that “Where there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no opportunity for faith either.” He will use the story of Job to explain how wrestling with our doubts and disappointments grows our faith – ignoring them undermines our faith.
“One bold message in the Book of Job is that you can say anything to God. Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment—he can absorb them all. As often as not, spiritual giants of the Bible are shown contending with God. They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out. In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology: you can’t really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them. God can deal with every human response save one. He cannot abide the response I fall back on instinctively: an attempt to ignore him or treat him as though he does not exist. That response never once occurred to Job- Phillip Yancy”
Doubts and disappointments are not a sign of a lack of faith. Rather, they are signs that our faith is interacting with a broken world. Learning this was a huge relief for me. I could walk away from the guilt and false truth of the saying “People of Faith don’t doubt; they just trust God.” Instead I could look at my doubts and disappointments as opportunities to discover how God moves and lives inside my very imperfect life of sin, loss, and heartache. The key was not ignoring these doubts (letting them subvert my relationship with God) – but instead allowing God’s truth to constantly shape and direct my response to my pain and letdowns. This is more commonly referred to as “wrestling with God.” It is an apt analogy simply because the process is exhausting and difficult. But the result is that in the end I get to subdue the doubts and disappointments instead of allowing them to shape my identity.
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