Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Doubt

Embrace Grace Bible Study Blog with Liz Curtis Higgs

Have you ever whispered, “Help me believe, Lord! Help me have more faith!”?

Come meet a desperate father, crying out those words across twenty centuries. His son is possessed by a demon that throws the boy to the ground, leaving him rigid and foaming at the mouth.

Jesus’ disciples try to drive out the evil spirit, but fail. When the Lord arrives and learns what’s happened, he doesn’t mince words.

“O unbelieving generation” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” Mark 9:19

Is it just me, or does he sound (forgive me, Lord) frustrated? “You faithless generation” (CEB), Jesus says. “You unbelieving people!” (NIRV) The interjection at the start must be what prompted some translators to add an exclamation point: “A! thou generation out of belief” (WYC) and “You faithless people!” (NLT).

Strong words.

Jesus goes on, perhaps with a note of weariness in his voice, “How long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” (ESV) We can almost hear a long sigh. “How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this?” (MSG)

Frustrated Young Man

To be honest, I love seeing the human side of Jesus, openly expressing his emotions and showing us how real he is. He is the Son of God, yes, and also the Son of Man—fully divine, yet a living, breathing person, like the young man in this photo, who looks rather put out.

However frustrated Jesus might be, it seems he’s not chastising his disciples with this speech on faithlessness. Later, when they ask him privately why their deliverance efforts didn’t work, the Lord tells them, ““The only way this kind of demon is put out is by prayer and by going without food” (Mark 9:29 NLV). He’s speaking to them as their teacher, telling them how to approach things next time, not scolding them for getting it wrong.

Doubt and Fear Just Ahead

What Jesus does appear to be unhappy about is the spiritual state of the crowds who follow him, yet haven’t placed their trust in him. Because of their unbelief, demons roam the land. Because of their lack of faith, a young boy lies stiff on the ground. Because they doubt God’s power, they cannot call upon it.

Beloved, we needn’t wonder why there is so much evil and suffering in the world: it’s because the people who claim to worship God have stopped believing in God. We may acknowledge that a Creator exists somewhere out there, but deep down we don’t believe he can triumph over evil. We don’t believe he can really fix things. We don’t believe he is the great I AM.

Listen to this boy’s father, whose words reflect that kind of uncertainty:

“If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Mark 9:23

If Jesus can do anything? Clearly this man doesn’t know Who he’s talking to!

Yet, how often do we sound just as doubtful? We place our requests before God, then take them right back, fretting over how we’re going to solve our problems, not convinced God can really do anything about them.

The Lord repeats the man’s words back to him—not to mock him, but to underline this father’s misplaced doubt.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. Mark 9:23

It’s a gentle, but firm reprimand, as well as a loving reminder: “What do you mean, ‘if you can’?” (CJB), Jesus says to him. He says it to us as well.

Then comes the good news we’ve been longing for, the response to the question, “Can you help us, Lord?” The answer, of course, is “Yes, yes, yes!”

“Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23

The poor man who thought nothing could be done, yet pleaded for something to be done, has just learned, “all things can be done” (NRSV). In fact, “anything” (CEV) and “everything is possible to someone who has trust!” (CJB)

The hair on my arms is standing straight up.

Only last week we learned, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). And in our December study the angel Gabriel assured Zechariah, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Now, here it is again. “Everything is possible…”

If you’re thinking that’s intentional on my part, that I am carefully constructing our studies such that we hear these echoes, I assure you, I’m not that clever. God alone keeps bringing us back to this truth.

We’re listening, Lord, and we want to believe. Help us. Please, help us.

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,…” Mark 9:24

Wait! Another echo. You may remember what happened when Mary arrived at her cousin’s house, bearing the Christ child in her womb: “In a loud voice Elizabeth exclaimed…” (Luke 1:42) The wording told us that was a prompting of the Holy Spirit. Might that be what’s happening here?

This father doesn’t think at length about what Jesus just said. He doesn’t chew on it, consider it. No, he responds “instantly” (CJB), “straightway” (ASV), “at once” (GNT). And not only is he quick, he’s also emphatic. Loud, even. He “cried out” (CEB), he “shouted” (CEV), and did so “with tears in his eyes” (NLV).

We can almost feel the tightness in his chest, the stinging sensation in his nose as he tries to keep from crying. But he has to speak, has to blurt this out. Right now, right now.

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

There it is: his confession of faith. And, in the same breath, his admission of doubt. What an example for all of us! He embraces the unbelief inside him—his fears, his uncertainties, his trust issues—and gives them to Jesus, telling him, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more” (CEV).

For those of us who believe in God, trust in God, and yet have times when we doubt, moments when we lose heart, here is proof that we can admit our lack of faith to God and ask for his help. Incredible, isn’t it?

Old Hymnals on Chair

Last Sunday in church we sang an old hymn. I mean really old, like 1740. Charles Wesley simply called it, “Morning Hymn.” When we reached the third verse, I thought of this grief-stricken father and his longing to be done with doubt.

Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin, and grief,
Fill me, Radiancy Divine,
Scatter all my unbelief.

“Help my weak faith to be stronger!” (NLV) the man cries out. “Help me with my doubts!” (MSG)

The Word tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), and yet God gives us that faith when we ask for it. Now, this is a God we can count on.

“Oh, but Liz. It’s hard to trust the unknown. It’s hard to believe the unseen.”

Truly, you can do this. In fact, we believe in things we can’t see every day of our lives.

Let’s say you order a pizza over the phone. When you hang up, you trust them to make your pizza, right? You don’t call back every five minutes and say, “Are you making it? Are you sure?” You believe. You trust. In fact, you know they are making your pizza. You’re so certain of it, you get in your car and drive there to pick it up, and aren’t the least bit surprised when they pull it out of the oven, fresh and hot.

Pepperoni Pizza

Why do you have so much faith in the pizza place? Because the last twenty times you called, that’s how it worked. (Okay, there was that one time they accidentally gave your pizza to somebody else, but you still trusted them enough to order another one a week later.)

Time after time, they proved themselves trustworthy, yes?

Well, if you can trust the strangers who make your pizza, you can surely trust the One who made the sun, moon, and stars. God has proven his faithfulness over and over. Not twenty times—twenty thousand times. Truth is, you can’t put a number on it. “He is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4).

As I wrote in this chapter of Embrace Grace, “It’s God’s faithfulness—not ours—that makes the difference. He can handle our suspicions and fears, our misgivings and apprehensions. He is not dissuaded by our cynicism, our incredulity. He understands doubt.”

In 1770 the explorer Captain Cook didn’t venture into a certain inlet on the coast of New Zealand, fearing he couldn’t navigate its waters under sail. He named it “Doubtful Harbor” (later called “Doubtful Sound” by whalers and sealers).

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Some of us avoid our own Doubtful Harbors, fearing that if we dare to enter those unknown waters, if we confess our moments of unbelief, we’ll sink.

Yet it’s clear that Jesus’ disciples had such moments, especially after his death on the cross. And they definitely survived their doubts. When he returned after his resurrection, Jesus asked them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” (Luke 24:38)

He wasn’t angry with them for doubting—he simply wanted to help them believe. So he invited them to experience him in a personal way: “Touch me and see” (Luke 24:39).

Will this be the day you touch him, dear sister? Will this be the day you discover he is a God who can be trusted?

Now, it’s your turn:

I cannot thank you enough for your comments here each week. Your honesty, your bravery, and your vulnerability are precious to me, and your ministry to one another is even more so. Thank you for letting God’s Word do a cleansing work in your hearts.

This week’s questions are especially personal. Of the three, I’d encourage you to answer the third one, if only because your ideas might be a help to us all. I’ll include one brief answer, just to get things started, but it’s your responses that matter most.

  • What doubts or fears—about God, about faith, about heaven—do you harbor in your heart?
  • Pinpoint any experiences in your life that might have triggered such uncertainty.
  • What would it take for you to put aside your doubts and fears and “just believe”?

After thirty years of knowing the Lord, most of my fears have faded like morning mist beneath a rising sun. But doubt still rears its ugly head now and again, especially when the enemy tries to discourage me with statements like, “You don’t really believe every word of the Bible is true, do you?” That’s when I’m grateful for all the Scriptures I’ve hidden in my heart. They stir inside me, strengthening my faith, so I can send that bad boy packing, with my confident words ringing in his ears: “Yes, I do believe!”

I look forward to reading your comments, and I’ll only jump in when needed. Next week we’ll Embrace Faith with both arms. Until then, bless you for opening God’s Word with me!

Your sister, Liz

93 Responses to Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Doubt

  1. Teresa Lott January 9, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    My first seed of doubt was when my 16 year old brother was killed an a car accident 26 years ago. To this day, I see no good thing from this event, in fact it changed our family forever in a negative way and I still struggle with it.

    • Rose Kincaid January 9, 2013 at 8:11 am #

      Teresa, I am sorry for your loss & your family’s loss. I, and my family, lost my mother to cancer when I was 14 y.o. and I was the youngest of 8. This happened more than 30 years ago. It devastated all of us and we all went through struggles and it tore our family apart. I was not a believer at that time. Yes, I went to church but I was not saved; I did not have a personal relationship with God. I did not become a believer until the age of 21. There have been many struggles through the years, but I look back and see the many blessings. I probably would not have married my husband and had been blessed with two wonderful children who are firm believers in God. All of my brothers & sisters have gone through struggles but I have seen some positive changes in them. I did blame God for my mother’s death so long ago. Today, I realize that it was not God’s fault; it was “sin’s” fault. When sin entered this world, it brought death and disease. Praise God that He brought us hope! “All things work for good for those who love Him and are called according to Him purpose.” I still have struggles but I know that He will answer all my questions, either in this life or the next. I hope this helps and God bless you and your family.

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Hi Teresa,

      I don’t know how, but I can promise you that there have been, and/or will continue to be, blessings arising from that horrible event. If I can, I’d like to encourage you with part of my story: my father was assassinated in 1975, when I was 11 years old. For a long time I believed he’d killed himself, as that was the belief for a time. It caused me to wonder about where he was for eternity, which ultimately led me to saving faith in Jesus.
      The key thing is, I didn’t even realize the connection between Dad’s death and my salvation until my now-husband pointed it out to me! Now it’s so obvious, but my grief had kept me from seeing it for over 30 years.
      God does love you, AND your brother, and he can and WILL bring all things together for those that love him, just like he promised. I will pray for you, Sister.

      • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

        meant “all things together FOR GOOD”, typo. sorry! God bless you.

    • Ginny Sargent January 10, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      Teresa.
      My heart is with you. Like you there was a death (my brother who was 25, with two children had cancer and died) that changed the whole dynamic of the family. Every photo, we felt loss. Every holiday we mourned and then celebrated. In fact I was 14 when my brother died. There was a period there of about 9 years in which he was torn from my memories. My parents were concerned, but never took me to anyone to talk about it. It was only when his children became curious that my poor broken heart began to let some memories come flooding through. But, my parents oh how they suffered. I sometimes struggle, but for the most part the very spirit of my brother has entered my memories and I can say things about his personality. But, then again there are times where he just isn’t “there”. I have a feeling that God was protecting my young heart because I was to loose more people.

    • Stephanie Todd January 14, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Teresa, my mother and brother were killed in a car accident as well it has been 12 years. Focusing on the why almost drove me crazy, instead I now look to the Father for the HOW, HOW do I move forward with this? How do I trust You again when You chose to do this to me, to us…..these are questions that can be answered and therefore can lead to peace. Your question will not be answered this side of heaven, therefore no peace. You are here for a purpose, try to find joy dear sister… Hope this helps, Stephanie

    • Judy January 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      Teresa – this is a hugely sad loss for your family.
      I would like to pass along a thought about the “all things that God works for the good of those who love him” passage that I have found helpful through a long trial of my own. I think perhaps we tend to interpret this as pertaining to some identifiable good circumstance that will flow out of struggle and pain, and when it doesn’t happen we become disillusioned or doubtful of God’s goodness. I have come to believe that the key to understanding ‘the good’ He promises lies in the next verse which says that He predestined us (those who love Him) to be “conformed to the likeness of his Son” – it is in loving Him in/through all these things that we become like Him – that is the true good He promises. Our sorrows may not lead to external, circumstantial good, but to more subtle ‘good’ eg. they become the means by which we learn to have compassionate, non-judgemental hearts, or if the sorrow requires a great forgiveness, that we might better understand what it cost Jesus to forgive us, or out of our sorrow we may become comforters of those who mourn, or… I guess what I am trying to say is that ‘the good’ God promises may simply be the heart good that makes us more like Jesus – we may never see circumstantial good, but that does not make His promises invalid, or worthy of doubt.
      I hope this helps you in your journey. I found it very freeing to be released from the expectation of circumstantial ‘goods’ which I don’t think God actually promises, and a means by which my trust in what He truly promises could increase. And perhaps, as you look into your own wounded heart, you may just find He has been working in quiet ways there, all these years.

      • Loretta February 27, 2013 at 10:57 am #

        Judy,
        I have read your comment over and over! I can’t fully express what this means to me! One of my sons died in his sleep just four days before his 27th birthday. Sudden, massive heart failure! In these 14 1/2 years later, I still grieve, but not in bitterness and rage. While I have never thought God “took” him to be mean or to punish me, the “good” has not been clear. You have helped me to see the rest of the story. Thank You!

  2. Jeanette January 9, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Liz,

    Thank you so much for challenging our minds! For calling us to really get in touch with what we believe, to get us deeper in to God’s word. I need this encouragement, you arehelping me so much! God bless you and your ministry.

  3. Tanya January 9, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Grace and forgiveness. I know of God’s immeasurable love, but I struggle to believe it fully applies to me. Others? Sure! Me? Maybe sometimes. The truths of His word are cemented in my head;I believe them entirely … But my heart still doubts the extent. I still wonder “why me?” I know I am not and will never be good enough, and while I know God is bigger, I often fear His grace is not big enough to cover all my continuous mistakes. This is when my cry echoes the man you discuss here. “God, I believe! Help my unbelief!”

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Oh Sister! I’m so excited for you! I have prayed that same prayer for years, and it has led me at last to wonderful faith!!! He will answer, He will give you the faith you need to KNOW his grace is enough! Amen!!

    • Razella January 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      I have lived much of my life also wondering and asking “why me”. I know one of the things that has helped me, is sometimes to fall at His feet in complete humility that even though I can’t understand, He does understand, and to ask Him to just break the doubt inside me and Give me His understanding. It’s so HARD sometimes! LOL! However, He is God, He is OUR God, He is MY God. Even just stopping the doubting voice inside and making that my focus can help turn my doubt into gratefulness for who He is.

    • Lynden January 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

      Hi Tanya, I so understand what you are saying. I was raised in a Christian home but for most of my life I have felt unworthy of God’s love, or that I just wasn’t good enough to be able to be used by Him. And I have made huge mistakes in my life. I was given a verse once which I still cling to from Ephesians 3: “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 saints, 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.” I think it is a mind-blowing thing to grasp the fullness of God’s love, but little by little, through many painful experiences in my life I’m beginning to be persuaded that God’s love for me is “personal”, that to Him alone I am “all beautiful” and that He takes “great delight in me” – in ME!! Why?? AND He still takes great delight in my when I fail Him so badly. Because I guess the bottom line is that He created me to have a relationship with Him, one that no one else will ever fulfil. I have many days of doubts with regards to my value, but God speaks gently and as it says in Zeph 3:17 “He is silently planning for you in love.” I hope this encourages you and lets you know you are not alone in your feelings. God bless you, Lynden

  4. Colleen January 9, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    It would take nothing more for me to believe in my faithful God, as I desperately need and cling onto God for everything in my life.

    • Razella January 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      Wow! How true, we all, no matter where we are at in our individual walks, desperately need our God, to cling to our Savior for everything. I just wanted to share that your sentence here encourages me.

  5. Collen January 9, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    Thank you Liz for your message. Very encouraging! Very powerful. Blessings to you.

  6. Tammy January 9, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    If I could look pass the walls of discouragement that the enemy puts in front of me. I’ve been praying, for years it seem, for my son’s deliverance of the demons that haunt him.

    In His Grace~Tammy

    • Shalom Zoe January 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      Tammy, when it comes to evil spirits, you don’t ask God to deliver him. God gave you the authority to do it. Speak to that evil spirit and command him to leave your son in the name of Jesus! Once you have prayed, you will have to stand strong and keep your confession on God’s word. You don’t go by what you see, but by Gods Word.

      • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

        Zoe, she may or may not mean literal demons. Gently.

    • Razella January 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      This is hard, when we pray for those so close to us, those we love so much, and don’t see those prayers answered. I’m in that same situation with different persons in my family, and there are sometimes that I simply fall crying into the arms of my husband as he prays with me. Then, I draw strength and love from the Lord. I call on Him to be my Comforter. This is something new for me, only in the last 6 months have I really been praying such prayers and then seeking out God as “Comforter”. It helps me though, and in time, He does give me comfort. My prayer for you is that the Lord will be comforter to you during your time of prayer for your son, and draw you even closer unto Him. *hugs*

  7. lynne January 9, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    oh, how easily the words fall from my lips to others,”God is in control. He never leaves us” and then in the wee hours of the dark morning, I find myself whining again about the mountains in my own life. Forgiving myself for not being perfect is really hard and accepting His forgiveness for my shortcomings is hard and sometimes it is just plain hard! I want to keep my feet planted on the corner of love and grace.

  8. Gloria Critchfield January 9, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    Tammy, I understand exactly what you mean. I have been praying for my own two children who have heartaches that I would never dream of, most of which have come upon them because they haven’t followed God with all their heart. I know that I can trust God to continue to deal with them and draw them because I can see Him doing that. What is tough is knowing that they make the choice whether to follow God or not. God does everything He can, but He doesn’t force himself on anyone. That’s where unceasing prayer comes in to play and trusting God to do all He can in my children’s lives. But please know that you’re not alone. We do have a God that is faithful.

  9. Sandi Thompson January 9, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    I am facilitating a group on healing prayer. Every week I ask the Lord, “Why?” I see them struggle to believe He will work in power. And yet as we pray for people, He moves powerfully. We have seen miraculous things and yet they doubt themselves. I can only pray “Help their unbelief!” I trust His direction even when I don’t understand.

  10. Deb Nedza January 9, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Thanks for sharing that, Gloria. My husband is a preacher, I am a PK (from a very very conservative background), and we have 3 children, 2 of whom are married to nonbelievers. Our two oldest girls made unwise choices, and it hurts. But I think of my own lack in instilling Bible reading and prayer and scripture memorization into those two girls, and feel much of the blame resides with me. God can do the impossible, as Liz states, however. That is my prayer: that He will draw them to Himself in ways that our proddings cannot do. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. And in this new year, I want to more than ever be pliable, open, willing to be used by the Holy Spirit and more than that, be a woman of prayer who is in the Word more than ever. He is faithful nevertheless; thankful that His mercies are new every day.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 12, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Deb, I hear absolutely what you are saying. What mother doesn’t fret over what she could have/should have done? And yet, God is more than able to overcome our weaknesses with his strength. You are so wise to focus, not on the past, but on the future. God has a plan for your grown children and he has a plan for you. More time in prayer and in the Word is always the right thing to do. As you say, he is faithful!

  11. Ali January 9, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    I think what really holds me back is my own sinfulness, the lingering fight for independence, to not fully surrender myself into His great arms. I don’t think that God can really do more for me than what He’s already done. I think what it takes is just surrendering more and more to Him and learning to trust Him no matter what happens.

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Yes, I think you hit it: “learning”! It takes time to trust fully, especially if you spent some time in younger years learning that you could only trust yourself to take care of you. He is so patient and kind with us! Bless you!

  12. Jennifer Lewis January 9, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Liz,
    Thank you for this. It is definitely a word in due season for me. I have been trying to heal from a “bad” experience that caused us to leave the church that I was in leadership in. I followed my husbands lead to a church that I was unsure about. I have suffered from depression and backsliding for over two years now. I left that church have started attending another (and am finally healing) but my husband has stayed put. I feel like a traitor causing disunity within my home. This study is healing me in so many ways. Thank you for speaking what God knows we all need to hear. Lucifer is a wicked adversary, but my GOD is ALWAYS victorious.

  13. Becky High January 9, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    I believe completely that “with God nothing is impossible”. I KNOW He is perfectly capable of amazing things. My problem is not a lack of faith, but a lack of understanding. I am a survivor of breast cancer. Many prayers went up on my behalf to miraculous be healed of this disease. He chose instead to heal me through conventional ways, with doctors and chemo. I do not know why some miraculously healed and others are not, but I am assured of this: His love for me never fails and I am His beloved child. One day I will fully understand. I am waiting for that day.

  14. Connie McCormick January 9, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    As a Pastors kid and Pastors wife I’ve seen and experienced defeat to many times.

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      Connie, Dear One, people fall short and they can be stunningly cruel, especially the wolves in sheep’s clothing. That is not Jesus, though. Arise, Child, and take nourishment from him (bury your self in the gospels and see him anew). He will raise your faith from the dead!

    • Julie January 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,” prov24:16. God promises to rescue and uphold you..do not believe the lie that you must accept defeat.

  15. Carol January 9, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    I am definitely in a season of doubt and fear. For some reason, I wake up feeling stressed, I go to bed feeling tense. I know that God can do all things. I am having a difficult time processing when and how He will work. I wish I knew what it would take to overcome these fears. More prayer? More time in the Word? I’m hanging on, but some days it’s harder than others.

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Yes, prayer and the Word are the answers, but not the way you think. It won’t happen quickly (at least usually). BUT IT WILL HAPPEN. I came from a similar place, and I couldn’t figure out how to resolve two opposite things:
      1) I am under grace, so there is no “law” for me, nothing I have to do to be saved; and
      2) I have to be in prayer and the word to please God.
      It turned out I was right about there being no more “law.” The flaw was in the second part – I didn’t get the way it worked. Spending time with him (prayer = talking, reading his word = listening) and keeping my eyes open for his activity in my life taught me slowly, over time, how to trust him. And the more I trusted him, the less I worried, so stress became less and less of an issue for me. When we finally get it, when we really GET how he loves us, fear is defeated. Hang on! The enemy says it’s useless, because he knows the truth! God WILL prove himself faithful!

      • Erin January 19, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

        Your post brought tears to my eyes, especially when you said when we really GET how he loves us. I have struggled with my faith for longer than I care to remember. I feel like it comes so much easier for others, yet so difficult for me. I have anxiety and worry and fear is how I spend my days. How can I transition from fear to faith?

  16. Susan January 9, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    I have no problem believing God “can” — after all, He’s God. My problem is believing He “will” especially when it comes to me. Sure, He can do whatever he wants, he can handle any of my issues and solve any problem. But just because He can doesn’t mean He will. That’s where I struggle.

    • K January 9, 2013 at 10:49 am #

      I totally get that! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the same thing.

  17. Stacy Mc January 9, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    It sounds like there are many that are struggling with the same thing I am. I have faith that God can do any and all things. My doubt is that He will do anything for me. I have followed Him all my life and yet I can only count the times that I have seen Him work in my life on one hand. I loved the analogy of ordering a pizza and trusting that it will be there when I get to the store but I have not experienced God’s activity in my life in any way that I would be able to point and say see what God has done. I have nothing solid to stand on and feel like I am constantly slipping on sand. For me, I order the pizza and go to the store only to find He has forgotten my order. I feel like Charlie Brown in that I keep going to the pizza place and my order is continually forgotten.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 12, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Stacy, there may only be a handful of times when you were fully aware of God at work in your life, but I believe absolutely that he is at work ALL THE TIME in ways we cannot see. A car accident that almost happened, but didn’t. A sudden prompting to call a friend who really needed our words of encouragement at that exact moment. An unseen hand that steadied us as we walked across ice. A comforting word from a stranger on the street. When I began to praise God for every good thing, big or small, that occurred in my life, it changed my thinking completely. I have a greater awareness now of his presence, of his love for me, and of his power. I’ll be praying that, as you start looking with expectation, you will see evidence that will build your faith. Bless you for your honesty, dear sister. You are not alone!

  18. K January 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    My first real trial came when illness struck my family. We were hit with job loss, major, life-altering illness, death ( 2 loved ones), major surgery, and a cancer scare all within about a 2 year period. It took about 5 years for my spiritual equilliberium to be restored. Although I do not blame God for what happened (I don’t think He made it happen), knowing that he allowed it and didn’t stop it (at least some of it) is hard at times. Thankfully, God has lovingly brought me to a place where I can see some good that has come from our experiences, although I still deal with sadness, fear, and questions at times. Although, I’ve dealt with those two years, the results of them have left lasting scars. I still battle fear vs. faith and trusting that God is the giver of good gifts and desires good things for His children. Thankfully, He is patient and gently gives me reminders everyday of His goodness. As an aside, one of the most freeing things anyone ever said to me was “tell God how you feel.” It sounds like such a “duh” thing, He already knows how we feel, but I started being completely honest with God – if I was mad, sad, thought He was being unfair, questioning, whatever, I told Him – sometimes loudly. Confession is always the first step. After being honest with Him, He was able to guide me through those feelings and questions into renewed fellowship with Him. I still don’t have all the answers as to why everything happened as it did (but I’m learning to be okay with that) and as I said above, I still battle fear and I work everyday at trusting, believing God wants only the best for me. But hallelujah, with His help, I’ve come a LONG way from where I was. It’s a journey. So thankful, He holds my hand through it all. Thank you Liz – I needed this today!

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      You are doing GREAT for the short space you’ve had since tragedy struck in your life. Of course the struggle is hard after such things. Bear in mind there are physical realities, like post-traumatic stress, that are real and have a physiological effect – not just “all in your head” stuff. I applaud you for soldiering on, persevering toward the prize. Your perfected faith will be unbelievably glorious on that day! Blessings to you!

  19. Becky Frith January 9, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Either I am having a “senior” moment or brain fog today, but I can not recall a season of doubt. I have tried to go my own way out of my selfishness, but I don’t think I have actually doubted that God would see me through. Perhaps it is the selfishness and doing it my way and taking the problems back and not leaving it with the Lord is my “doubtfulness”. But through these studies, I have come away again knowing that God knows and cares about me. As you put it Liz, ” God loves us even when we are unlovable.” I have learned to insulate and partially isolate myself from the worldly stresses of the media. Sometimes I think cellphones have been the cause of so much stress in the modern world. It seems every moment, every thought, every action, must be shared with someone 20 times a day. If only we would share these same moments with our Saviour! Looking forward to next week’s revelation. Love to ALL

  20. Vicki January 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    I recently read a devotion where it encouraged me to say when dealing with an issue … “I trust you, Jesus.” Boy, did that come in handy the past week after i passed out, was taken to the ER and spent the next 36 hours at that hospital. Atrial fibrillation they say, take these drugs for the rest of your life and you should be ok.

    I trust you, Jesus! What a comfort!

  21. Pat January 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    It takes being real with my Lord, warts and all. In one month I will celebrate forty-nine years of marriage, some of it blissful.:) But I can never forget a shameful night of infidelity which almost devoured me. Fourteen years later I finally confessed it to my husband because I knew that I had to be real. Initially he was very angry, but he forgave me and never stopped loving me. He became a small shadow of God’s never ending love and grace.

  22. Dianna January 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    My doubts seem to come more from my children’s struggles now. Our youngest of 6 is now 18 and seems to be going through her own wrestling match with The Lord. I think because she has always been the most challenging, stubborn, head strong and talented she just wears us out with the “drama”. Her doubts and fears tend to constantly cause strife and we really do become weary. So as I’ve done with our other children, I pray and cling to the promises of God, especially John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

  23. Kathy January 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    I don’t doubt that God is and can do anything – I doubt that I’m worth it.

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Child, that’s because people have treated you badly, in such a way as to show you that you weren’t “worth it” to them. I lived there for so long! I wish I could somehow implant in you the awareness that YOU are exactly the one Jesus wanted to save, when he sacrificed himself that day AND when he first decided to do it, while he was in glory! YOU were on his mind and in his heart when he put down his royal robe, emptied himself of his divine abilities and rights, and humbly became “God with us.” YOU are so precious to him, and you have been since the foundation of the world! He sees the beautiful, strong, brilliantly shining one you will be at the end, but he sees you that way RIGHT NOW. I KNOW this to be true! Hang on, ask for more faith, ask for his help and tell him always the truth about how you feel. You’ll get there, I promise!

    • Ginny Sargent January 10, 2013 at 11:44 am #

      Oh dear Kathy. If there was one lesson I learned from one of my pastors it was this: “We all have sacred worth and value”. I held on dearly to this and it helped me in my ministering (I was a Lay Leader at the church at the time). That with God we have a slate that get’s wiped clean. Of course being human, we will have human doubts and troubles. But, dear one he made you. Even with our errors and human free will, he is beside us and what (good) parent would remove your sacred worth? You are worth every breath you take, every thought you think, and yes, every error you have made. EVERYONE has sacred worth and value. You do too.

  24. Razella January 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    The quote in the book that ends with “It’s hard for me to believe that God loves me” again brought tears to my eyes. Yet the difference this time was that the tears were a mixture of my own heart which is attacked by doubt, and tears for the others I know are out there who fear from that same doubt without having someone hold them and tell them and show them TRUTH in His Word! Because HOLY HOLY HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY! Previously, I doubted many things. MANY things. God has been slowly working on my doubting heart, and I have found that KNOWING His Scripture is extremely important. Specifically, knowing who HE is. I find that sometimes, just reading verses that remind me of WHO GOD IS can alone strengthen my doubting heart. I think for me, to ultimately put aside all my doubts and fears will require me knowing His word, Reading His Word and storing it in my Heart, and Obeying Him. Because I know from my experience, when I Obey Him, in His perfect time, He shows me parts of Himself I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Lastly, I have also found that fellowship with other Christian Sisters, sisters whom I will remove my mask from and share my struggles is a tremendous help, because in gentle love they guide me back to Him and share with me verses that I may not have thought of on my own. I’ve learned that one of the biggest lies Satan has ever told us is that we are “alone” (1 Corinthians 10:13) in our sins, or our thoughts, or our doubts. By hiding them and repressing them, we miss the beautiful blessing of community the Lord has given us in one another, to encourage and uplift one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). I know that He has the Power to overcome my doubts, and I am learning how beautiful and wonderful it is to sit in the quiet, bringing Him my doubts, my reservations, my fears, my ALL, and having him restore and renew my spirit.
    I’m really looking forward to this weekly study with you all!

    • Theresa Gilman January 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      Amen!

  25. Laura Lane January 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    For me, it has taken coming to the end of myself and my resources to simply believe. Unfortunately for me, I tend to take wash, rinse, and repeat too literally!

  26. Madeline January 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    I do believe that God can do anything, it’s just that it feels like he’s forgotten me. I’ve been praying for my husband to come to the Lord and tries so hard to be an example and keep our family together. But his cynical and negative outlook on life is wearing me down so much. I pray and pray for relieve and direction but I just can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel. I have no energy left under the criticism and it truly feels as if this pizza order’s gone somewhere else!

    • Julie January 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Madeline…I’m praying for you. Hold on, call upon His energy…col1:29…which is powerfully at work in you. Don’t give up!

      • Madeline January 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

        thanks Julie, so much appreciated!

  27. Pam January 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    It’s strange, and maybe not, that your subject is doubt this week. I recently had a health scare, and I told myself “I will trust God”. But when it came right down to it, I didn’t. Instead of a resolution, I have a prayer for the New Year. My prayer is that I will know God is a loving father. I have so many fears and doubts. I am the queen of worriers. I’ve wondered if God can really exist when there is so much pain in the world. How can He let so many bad things happen. And then, I wonder how will He answer my prayers, and how can I be worthy of any kindness. I have so many questions. I know what the Bible says, that if you ask your father for a piece of bread, will he give you a stone? No, of course not. Well, how much more will your Heavenly Father give you if you ask Him. I’m tired of fear. I’m tired of doubting. I want to trust Him completely no matter what happens. After God has shown Himself trustworthy time and time again, on my behalf, I still have not learned my lesson. I hope this is the day that I start to truly trust Him. Thank you for your words of encouragement. What I will do is keep trying and believing that God will somehow get through my thick head all that He would have me know about Him, and that I CAN trust Him.

  28. Brandi Luiz January 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    my doubts??? my fears??
    I have doubts about why I have to take medication to keep me level, I take meds in the morning to keep me going, I take meds at night to put me to sleep. I just want to be filled with JOY always and not have to deal with depression and anxiety. I want God to take away the burden of the medication. I want my mind healed and for some reason, He has chosen to let me on this path. My husband, who is not currently serving the Lord, choosing single men and alcohol as partners rather than me and church and “our” friends. Why is God letting me go through that? He is struggling, but I am taking medication.

    I know God is good, I know He loves me, I know that “all things are possible” to him who believes, but I don’t know why I can’t be well and my husband can’t get his act together.
    I surround myself in bible study and godly women, their blogs, their messages, I try to stay close to my friends, but I don’t have many left, because my husband won’t socialize with any of our “church” people right now. Just struggling with those doubts, those fears.

    Will I not be a good example because my depression and anxiety might get the best of me, and people won’t see JESUS they’ll see my ugliness. What will I say when I stand at judgment and He asks me, “why?”

    I just want to live for Jesus and not be an emotional wreck. I want to be His light in a dark world, I want my girls to follow Him with all their heart, souls, mind and strength.

    Ugh, random thoughts, sorry.

    • Theresa Gilman January 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Brandi,
      I also take meds for anxiety and depression (and so I can sleep at night). For YEARS I have desperately wanted to be free of all of the mental illness. I feared just what you do – you expressed it really well. I will probably sound like a nut, but let me share something that happened in November.
      My husband and I were in an environment with about 400 other Christians, and we were blessed to have amazing praise and worship for about 4-5 hours a day for a week. In that environment, God gave me a supernatural blessing: for about a day, I was the woman that I will one day become. I had no mental illness. I had no fear. I had perfect trust. I felt one with God, and I experienced how loved I am, for the first time. I understood that THIS was how he sees me all the time, and also that this experience would be temporary.
      The long-term effect is more peace than I’ve ever known. I am still struggling about the meds, but for now I know I need them. He totally assured me that my flaws DO NOT disqualify me from service! He can, will, and probably has, used me in ways I don’t suspect. When our hearts are motivated by love and wanting to serve him and others, HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT! He will cover the rest.
      I can’t speak to the situation with your husband; my heart goes out to you. But please know you are useful and lovely to your Lord.

      • Brandi Luiz January 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

        Theresa, Thank you for your words of encouragement. I do understand your experience and I don’t think your crazy. That was beautiful, what a gift from the Lord. I appreciate your words, thank you so much.
        Brandi

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 12, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Oh, my dear Brandi. Never apologize for sharing your heart, especially not here with your sisters. We get it, and we’re with you and for you.

      More to the point, the Lord is with you and for you! When you stand before him someday, he will not ask you, “Why?” He knows why. He will wipe away your tears and say, “Welcome home. daughter.”

      Let these words from Isaiah 25:8-9 assure you:
      “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’”

      • Ginny Sargent January 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Oh I really love the way you put the “why?” and the response is worth gold…. “Welcome home. daughter.” I drew such comfort from that Liz. Thank you so much. It is always good to remember how much God embraces and loves us.

      • Brandi Luiz January 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

        Oh Miss Liz,
        You are such a blessed encourager. Thank you for the words and the scripture and the visual! I will cherish that scripture and use it for my memory verse.
        Thank you for the opportunity to do this study with other women from all over the place, reaching out to each other for words of encouragement and spuring each other along.

        Thank you,
        Humbly,
        Brandi

  29. Lekili January 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    I want to thank everyone who has shared. It is so nice to know I’m not alone with this struggle.

  30. Ruth Coghill January 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    Now the hair on my arms is standing up. I rejoiced as I opened today’s segment, Embrace Doubt. For a number of years, God’s call to radio has been burning in my heart. Oblivious to the task and its challenges, I jumped in with all the enthusiasm of an ignorant soul. It has been a stretching, but joyful time. I remember clearly, early on, when I panicked for a number of days. I couldn’t sleep, wondering what I had gotten myself into and how in the world I could prepare a show every single week of the year. After several sleepless nights, I lay in bed going over all the fears and reasons why I was not qualified for this task. Fatigued, I prayed, “Lord, I’m too tired to think any more. Would you just hold these anxious thoughts and I’ll continue in the morning.” I chuckled at the absurdity of the prayer. However, I slept right through that night and awakened in the morning to a heart and mind full of ideas for future shows. I marveled that God wanted exactly that: my giving up all my burdens to Him!

    • Ruth Coghill January 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      I hesitated to write this long comment but it is so relevant for today, Jan 9 2013.

      I so quickly forget God’s wonderful provision. Forgive me Lord. Doubts have filled my mind for a couple days now. Just blah thoughts. Couldnt I just relax these days, visit my grandkids, teach a study here or there??? But oh His provision came through today on this blog. Just an hour ago, I read in Matthew the story and wrote in my journal,”I believe, help my unbelief.”

      Thanks heaps for your honestly- a dose of meds for this dull January day. It’s no longer dull as the light shines in through His word.
      With much love,Liz, for your service to me and many others.

  31. Reeda Shreve Francis January 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Liz after I read this study and all these comments–some so heartbreaking—there is one thing I do know God hears all our cries and is with us. We just have to put every thing in his hands and trust him. Sometimes it seems like our prayers are not being answered but we still have to stand on Gods word and not let the devil put fear and doubt in our minds. Bless you Liz for this study it has helped me more than you will ever know..Thank you.

    • Ginny Sargent January 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      I even believe that God cries with us. He knows our pain.

  32. sue January 10, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    what would it take for me to put away my doubts and fears and just believe? less distractions. less of what takes my eyes from God. More intentionally looking for His presence, especially in the situations where I see nothing changing. I loved the hymn that you included in this study. There is such richness and often a great deal of wisdom as well as comfort in the old hymns. Solid biblical truth too. God often speaks to me by bringing a snippet from a hymn to mind. The way that hymn invariably speaks directly to where I am at that moment is such a special reminder that I am not alone, God’s sees and knows my struggles and cares so much. I struggle with memorizing Scripture, but music and the words to hymns stay with me. I did purchase a hymnal so I could learn more and more plus use in My personal devotional time as well. Music and the old hymns sooth the savage beast of unbelief in my heart, but I do need to remember to listen and have to take my eyes off the distractions to do so.

  33. Linda H. January 10, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    It has been amazing to read each comment and find a connecting thread in our
    lives that leads only to the Lord and His love for us. I, as so many. have spent so many years believing for others but not for myself. Fears of failure, not pleasing others, not being good enough have given me so much doubt. New year, clean slate…I love the closing verse of the chapter on doubt, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” Mark 5:36. Praying for that change that will release me from the fears that hold me so tightly and “just believe” that God loves me! Memorizing his word and journaling will keep His promises always before me. Thanks Liz for helping me reach deeper into my soul and for all the ladies willingness to share their deepest parts as well.

  34. Ginny Sargent January 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    What doubts or fears—about God, about faith, about heaven—do you harbor in your heart?
    Pinpoint any experiences in your life that might have triggered such uncertainty.
    What would it take for you to put aside your doubts and fears and “just believe”?

    I think this use to bother me much more than it does now. Although, if someone were to ask me what my last words would be I would say “forgive me”. I acknowledge that I am human so I am bound to sin. I am trying my best to emulate the phrase “what would Jesus do?” when those opportunities arise. But, I too fall short. It has taken my lifetime so far to be comfortable in not understanding the “whys” of God’s plan. Doubts? BIG TIME when I lost my brother, my father, my aunt(who was like a mother to me, and I am her namesake) and then my mom. All in a period of about 10 years. The first three deaths were in a period of just 4 years. I was so mad at God. Some where along the line in my, not giving up, sometimes just going through the motions I was restored. Instead of “why me” I thought “why NOT me” Was I not to experience life and learn? Was I to be better than any one else? God loved me the same, even when I was mad. God walked beside me and cried with me. I am human and human things like sickness, death, hurts etc. are going to happen. Didn’t Jesus prove that? Not that I always feel this way, but in the larger scheme of things I have learned to let a lot of things go that I don’t understand. Things that sometimes make me mad (like the shooting in the news a couple of weeks ago) But, we are on a planet with others who have human traits that they cannot seem to control. God gave us free will, sometimes that free will is used in a horrible way.

  35. Cheryl January 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    1. I see miracles happen when other people pray but I just can’t seem to get any answer except no or wait. I know I’m doing something wrong. I don’t think like this all the time, but when I think about things I’m praying for and I see prayers answered that others are praying for I do.

    2.My father died when I was 10, infirtility, loss of my daughters triplets.

    3. I’m taking classes now on how to be an intercessor, and I’m praying for my Son to come back to the Lord, and see his girlfriend saved too. I am in the waiting room and nervous that he won’t listen to the Lord and it will be too late. He did know and follow the Lord as a young boy and teen. Or to see my daughter a mother, or my girlfriend healed of MS, something I’ve been praying for, for a long time.

    • Ginny Sargent January 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      It is so hard to see others suffer. I am not going to (at least I am going to try) platitudes. Truth is we are in a world, a world where “things” happen. Is there meaning to us? Sometimes. I have found that the ones that hurt so much have incredible empathy and are able to encourage and embrace others who are hurting. You understand a hurting heart. Not that this is the “reason” you have suffered as you have but you come from a place of hope. The fact that you pray means you still have hope. Like Adam and Eve, God said there are things I do not want you to do. I believe one of the bibles I read said we are a “Hard Headed” people. I also lean upon the Holy Spirit during these times. I believe too that the Lord listens to the “heart” of a person like your son (my brother went through the same phase) and not the meanderings of their head. Some where deep inside, your son may even be Agnostic and at some point the Dove of salvation may pass to him. Still, God may be working in him, you may not know. I pray for you peace, that giving up to God and letting go of our own desires and needs (in our own time frame) can be difficult. We may always feel we don’t get the answer we want, but God may be working in a bigger fashion that we can ever expect.

  36. Michele Lemiere January 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    I’m a Christian almost as long as I can remember. I was very, very young when I already knew that Jesus died for my sins and I accepted Him as my Saviour. Lots of good things happened in my life. Still, sometimes I doubt and have fear that all these things are just my imagination. I KNOW that not be true, still….
    My husband’s testimony is that as a young man, once he saw, for a split second, the heavens open. He has a faith that is rock fast.
    Sometimes, I pray that the Lord would show me something of His glory, so that is would be more real to me.
    I know the Lord spoke of us who would believe without seeing….” I do believe but Lord, help me overcome my unbelief” That is my prayer.
    Michele Lemiere
    Belgium

    • Ginny Sargent January 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      What greater glory is there than a birth of a child? My husband and I were never blessed with children (4 years of surgery, test, more test) but we do have children in our lives. When I was a Lay person in my church I would be involved in baptism. Because my church does infant baptism I was blessed to assist with many children of the church. What greater trust and hope for mankind has God given us than the creation, birth and care of a child. That is where I see God. I am of the spirit that see’s God in others and nature. When I have a kindness given, I thank God. When I see the first robin of spring, I thank God. These every day, simple (not that birth is simple!) things have encouraged me, because, I know it is by God’s hand. We can not always get that flaming bush, but by golly I look at the Manger and the story of the birth of Christ and I am in awe. After 2000 years, we still abide beside a child born in a manger. Yup, for me children are God’s greatest blessing.

  37. Vickie January 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Reading this devotion and the comments it is reassuring to know that 1) I am not the only one who experiances doubts and 2) I can tell God I have doubts and He will not judge me for it. He will in fact help me overcome them. Thank you Liz for always speaking right where I’m at.

  38. Margaret Harke January 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    So wonderful of you to remind us that even the disciples had doubts and they knew and lived with Jesus and saw the miracles He performed. When we doubt, all we have to do is look around at God’s amazing creation and look back through our lives at all He has done for us. With faith and hope in Him, we can continue forward leaning on Him and His promises which He is faithful in keeping. There is a good book entitled The One Year Book of Bible Promises that pulls out many of God’s promises to those who believe in and follow Him. Thank you , Liz for this study.

  39. Robin January 11, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    As I’ve been reading the responses (particularly those by Sue and Linda H.), I remembered an on-line article that truly helped me hang on and gave me encouragement during 2012 (in fact I printed it and kept with my devotional materials so that I could re-read it). I’ll pass along the link in case anyone is interested: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/newsletters/learn-to-fly-by-the-instruments.

  40. Anne January 11, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    I am ashamed that I still doubt…the Lord has been exceedingly faithful to me. I try to remember that over and over and over!! but Alas I don’t. Right now I have a family situation that I have been praying about for almost a year..with no chagrin. But i know in my heart He will answer me…I just have to keep on keep on trusting? Help my unbelief!!!!

  41. Karla January 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    I have been thinking about this continually ever since I read the blog 2 days ago. I know I can be overcome by doubt and fear mostly when I am not spending time in God’s word. The enemy of our soul is the father of lies and he can take his scripture knowlege and twist it for his benefit. I think we often can bite on his fruit because we are not grounded in God’s word. We have a 14 yr. old daughter with an eating disorder and this can be very fear provoking at times, but I need to remind myself whose hands she is in…that I need to “trust the Lord with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding.” I also need to get as much of God’s word in her as I can to help her combat lies with truth and “take every thought captive” 2 Cor. 10:5. This is where I feel I have not done so great a job.
    So, I preach to myself as well as try to encourage all of you, who have some serious issues going on as well. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ”. BE IN THE WORD DAILY! In this day and age, we really have no excuse because we have His word in book form, ipad, phone, CD. God has also told us that we have need of spiritual armor,(Ephesians 6) and the only offensive weapon we have is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This is how Jesus made Satan flee. Two main things have been like a shot of faith in my arm:

    1) Reading through Psalms and Proverbs daily. If you don’t know where to start on your own in reading the bible(apart from a formal study), this is a great place to start! There are enough Psalms and Proverbs to read 5 psalms and 1 proverb a day for a month. Get up 30 minutes earlier if you need to. It is a crash course in the character of God and holy living.

    2) Reading biographies or autobiographies of Christians of amazing faith who endured unbelievable hardships. People like Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, “The Hiding Place”; Esther Ahn Kim, “If I Perish”; Brother Yun, “The Heavenly Man”. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, as Heb. 11 tells us, rooting us on in our faith. These people are modern day “Josephs” and their lives are like a shot of faith for me.

    So, be encouraged also, knowing that God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness. He tells us that gold is refined by fire and the stones for His house need to be chiseled. Being sculpted is a painful process and if we keep His perspective on what trials produce in our lives, we will maybe be more patient through them. We may order a pepperoni pizza, but He may deliver a veggie because he knows our needs. I’m sorry if I have been rambling, but I am trying to encourage both myself and YOU! May you truly be blessed by God today!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Thanks so much for offering helpful, practical suggestions, Karla, and wise counsel. I’m thinking we all need to write these words somewhere we’ll see them: “God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness.” It’s absolutely the truth. Paul shows us that happiness cab come as well–usually on the other side of obedience.

  42. Christina January 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    For almost the 5 years since I’ve given myself back to Christ I have never asked for anything for myself in my prayers…I always worried that God wouldn’t answer these types of prayers because I simply wasn’t worthy…Only recently, like three weeks ago, was I encouraged by my pastors wife and counselor to ask for something I really wanted that was very tangible…after months of hoping that my “friends” would fullfill this need out of love and respect, I finally asked my Father, and within two weeks a new group of friends blessed me by fullfilling the need. They just felt like it was something that needed to be done for me and my kids, and through this blessing God has also answered my prayers for people who reciprocate the basics of friendship, love loyalty honesty and mutual respect, another thing I decided to pray for! Doubt still picks at me because I’ve had the habit of only believing my prayers for others would be answered for almost five years…however now I have the faith that I am worthy of His time! Why else would He have come through for me in this manner? 🙂

  43. seeing angels January 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    The last four years I have been living in quick sand; I kept sinking…sinking. Four years ago, my husband quit his job of 34 years because he could not deal with his new supervisor (he was able to retire…but not ready to retire). She is the devil incarnate. I never knew people could be so mean and hateful. One comes to mind…Hitler. She is like Scrooge and Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life. She has made my life miserable, and she continues. I have prayed for four years…sometimes sobbing uncontrollably. My husband had turned into someone I didn’t know anymore. His lived in his “man cave”. I felt my faith was sinking…just like me in the quick sand. There were many times that I questioned God…why was He doing this to us? What was wrong with my faith? I knew God loved me…my close friends would say, “Andrea, put your faith in God…in His hands”. Golly…I tried, but the stress was eating away my spirit. I could not talk to my husband at that time…he seemed void of anything that happened to me.

    Several years ago, I purchased Embrace Grace. I began reading it because I was searching for something..I was becoming numb. I did not want to be at home anymore. I “hated” what this woman had done to us. I was disappointed in God. I spend time rereading the chapter on forgiveness. Oh God! that was hard. Forgive that woman…you’ve got to be kidding! I kept up my search for whatever it was I needed to feel whole again. I continued to reread your book. (It is now falling apart. ) I spent more time praying. One day I closed my eyes and prayed again. When my eyes were closed I saw an outline figure of an angel…the wings were huge! I shared this with my Christian friend. We talked and she told me I needed to pray for “that woman” AND FORGIVE HER! I felt a distaste in my mouth…my blood boiling. As she continued.. I listened…it started to make sense; I reread your chapter on forgiveness over and over. I fell to my knees and I prayed for that woman’s soul to open as well as her heart…I did ask for a promotion for her too. I forgave her because I realized she is possessed by the devil, and I think she is mentally ill.

    I continue to pray for her, even though she is still trying to get me fired…asking people to lie. I think I had sent you an email on what happened next. One day as I was driving home…praying for her. I ask God if this is what He wants….am I doing the right thing? I asked for a sign. As I was coming around a curve. I looked up at the sky, there was this huge praying angel! My heart was beating so fast…I had chills. Tears came down my cheek, and I thanked God for listening to me. I knew then it began with forgiveness.

    God reached out and pulled me out of that quick sand, and planted my feet firmly on the ground. I believe my life is turning around…one day at a time. I love God so much…as I speak it…my eyes tear up. God is on my side.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      My eyes are tearing up too, dear sister. I praise God for your teachable spirit! And pray for that continued turning in your life. Thanks so much for sharing your story with all of us.

  44. Brenda January 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    I fear that God doesn’t love or care about me as much as He does others. I don’t see God working in my life as visible as I see in other people’s lives.I think having a husband who does not seem to love me or care about what I think or need causes me to see God in the same light. This is caused me to be very insecure, anxious and depressed at times. I want to trust God and believe that He cares but if the person closest to me in my life doesn’t, than it’s hard to believe God does.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 13, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

      Brenda, I am so sorry you are struggling, yet so relieved that you see the problem: your husband is not your Savior. Even if he was the kindest, most loving man on the planet, he still isn’t the One who died for your sins.

      “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5). This is SUCH good news, for every one of us—married, single, widowed, divorced. We have the very best Husband a woman could hope for, and he loves each of us equally and completely.

      I realize when you are hurting, anxious, and depressed, this wonderful truth can be difficult to accept. I’m praying that you are seeking the help of a professional Christian counselor to guide you through these difficult days. There is no shame in seeing a counselor, dear Brenda, and no shame in taking medicines to help your depression and anxiety. I feel certain our sisters here join me in praying for your year to be a better one. God does love you, and he does care for you. Not because we say so, but because God says so: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

      • Kathy January 14, 2013 at 8:07 am #

        Wow! What precious women you all are! When I read your comments I just want to give you each big hugs and comfort you. I have always been able to believe God’s word easily, probably because I had nothing else to cling to in my life. Once when I was a new Christian my pastor shared “don’t read your Bible with your eyes-read it with your heart”. As a young Christian than, it helped me discover God’s word to be faithful and true and to just believe what the word said. Sure, I will still struggle but when I start reading with my heart, I get these faith boosters under me and , well believe. Yesterday at church our pastor said “grace is favor” . God will give you this, open your heart, ask, and receive. Bless you all!

  45. Joan Schossow January 14, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    So comforting to know that my faith is not based on my emotions or feelings, but on God’s sure Word and promises in the Bible.

  46. Ginny Sargent January 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I know we are changing chapters this week but, I wanted to share a final message about last week’s lesson. I can honestly say when I feel a bit separated from God, it is I who has created the divide. The hymn “Here am I Lord” strikes me to the very soul. There is a video that has the lyrics and the music I just looked at on page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6fYAiqV-Bs.
    This verse always, but always calls me back. I need to remember it is not all about me. It reminds me that I am HIS child and as that I too have a responsibility to keep my relationship with God, fresh and renewed.

    Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
    I have heard You calling in the night.
    I will go, Lord, if You lead me.
    I will hold your people in my heart.

    I sing this often, believe me. I need to. I am sorry if I have taken up so much space on this. I was just having one of those days.. How to hold your people in my heart days. Physically I feel worthless at times (I have all kinds of ortho and Fibro issues) and I struggle to say to myself that God sees my “issues” still significant. I am not a nobody, I am HIS. And today as I pray, my heart is becoming lighter because once again the guidance of the Holy Spirit has shined on me.

    • Brenda January 16, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Thank you so much for reminding me of these truths. Things are so much better when my focus isn’t on me. My eyes need to be on the Lord and not on some earthly person. So enjoying your study. Thanks for being such a blessing and encouragement to me.

    • Linda January 17, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      Oh Ginny, you have found a very special song! For me also. We sang this a lot on a mission trip to the Dominican and I still can not sing it without tears. I marvel that God might use even me! We ARE somebody! We are HIS! Never forget that and always keep listening. Some days are harder but He does care. I KNOW He can do anything, use anyone…the best part is, He often does without us even knowing about!

  47. Jacque January 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    God is so good – I just found out about this blog from the newsletter from Liz. Maybe in the past I just over-looked about the blog. But I think God kknew that I was struggling with doubt and the newsletter is what I needed to lead me to this blog. Thank you Lord! My doubt stems to what some have said about not feeling worthy – Why Me? I have struggled my whole life with doubt and trust issues. I have been in church all my life but was not saved until 23 years ago. My husband I have worked hard and try to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord and we still struggle daily. For me it is financial issues and poor self esteem – not being worthy. I pray and pray and pray that God will help us with our struggles and things seem to get worse and worse. I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel because I am not worthy enough therefore God has foresaken me. I see from all these other posts that people are struggling and hurting in their own way and they are continuing to trust God. I so desperately need God’s help in my life and I am earnestly praying that God will hear my plea and that he will lift this burden from me and that I can feel his presence and know that I am truly worthy. So sorry I have gone on so long but I am hurting so bad and I know God broght me to this blog for healing. I am trusting.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      You’ve found a safe place to land, Jacque. We’re reading through Embrace Grace just now. Might be worth seeing if your local library has a copy so you can find some additional encouragement. Keep praying, dear sister!

  48. Sonja August 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    For me it’s as simple as being middle aged, never married, no children, and opportunities that were missed and or torn from heart. Sounds dramatic, I know. I’ve spent my life wondering when will it be my turn? I’m constantly telling myself it could be worse which after awhile has gotten to be a pretty lousy measuring stick. It feels like a lifetime of getting by with no real happiness. Not total depression though I ebb and flow in that area. The worst part is just not feeling. Being numb and not being hopeful that it will ever change. Praying to God and believing that maybe this time, but this time hasn’t come yet.

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  1. Pizza Faith « 365 Days of Joy - January 10, 2013

    […] enjoy receiving Liz Curtiss Higgs’ weekly devotional (http://lizcurtishiggs.com/2013/01/embrace-grace-bible-study-embrace-doubt/)and an excerpt from this week’s article, which touched on grace and faith, really brought joy […]