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« Some Christian You Are | Main | The Rapture: Now, More Than Ever »

The Schizophrenic Believer 

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24 

The transparency must have been embarrassing.  After all, who doesn’t want to seem confident, assured and convinced of having it all together?  But honesty won out over pride. He confessed to two warring factions trying to gain supremacy over his soul and mind.  He could have said it this way, “Sometimes I believe; but sometimes I doubt.  What’s going on?”  When his epileptic son was calm, he believed.  When the boy had a seizure, his trust collapsed into a hot mess. This back-and-forth of his status quo shook him to the core. 

If we all dared to be as candid as this father, we would all probably make the same admission.  Vacillation between polar opposites undermines our prayer life, our spiritual stability and our perseverance.  We become timid.  We wonder, “Who is the real me?  Am I the believer or the doubter?  How can I pretend to believe when I am besieged by unbelief?  Am I just putting up a brave front for the sake of other people?”  We display the traits of classic schizophrenia.  (I use the term in a simplistic way, e.g. “split personality,” not as a clinical diagnosis.)

It is not uncommon, for example, to pray and then question whether God has really heard our prayers. Many who suffer from sickness or disease endure periods of negative thought about God’s healing power. Sometimes, we may even sink to the shameful levels of atheism or agnosticism.  Even after we recover from these lows, we feel that we have offended God and we beat ourselves up with bouts of nagging self-recrimination.   

Thomas, the disciple whom we have traditionally labeled “doubting Thomas,” immediately comes to mind.  His reservations about the resurrection most likely reflected the mindset of the general population.  “The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So, he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’” John 20:25.

But, Thomas did not stand alone in his doubt.  Jesus often remonstrated against widespread faithlessness.  “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” Mark 9:19. Human logic generally tends toward disbelief. 

We find a profound and instructive scripture in Hebrews.  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. It links theory to experience; it juxtaposes expectations to actual beliefs.  To believe that God exists is fine and good, but to diligently seek Him propels one into a different and higher dimension.  One is passive, the other is active.  The one is static, the other dynamic.

If you are in the crucible of a belief crisis, you will not get through it by more speculation, rumination and meditation.  If philosophical musing led you to unbelief, philosophy will not lead you out.  God does not reward philosophy or human wisdom. Instead, you must diligently (rigorously) seek God. He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  

Doubt may not be good, but it is not fatal.  Denial is fatal.  Doubt leaves the door open to revelation, but denial slams the door.  To deny God constitutes rejection.  Keep believing.  Methodically, systematically, you will build up a repertoire of positive answers.  As James wrote, But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18.

As He did to Thomas, at some point Jesus will appear to you, counter your doubt, and reward your faith.  Just keep believing!

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