josh longanecker life groups pastor at james river church
By: Josh Longanecker05/19/17

Doubt your Doubts

My wife and I sat in the emergency room praying quietly as my son, Trajan, lay on the bed unconscious. In a nasty accident, he suffered a major blow to the back of the head which had rendered him incoherent and concussed. The doctors told us that best case scenario he had a major concussion; worst case scenario he had bleeding on his brain and possible brain damage.

We began to pray. We prayed like we had never prayed before; many of our friends and family were praying. In fact, people all around the country were praying as we awaited the results of the CT scan and the diagnosis.

I had faith that God was going to do a miracle and the doctors were going to come back and say, “Mr. Longanecker, your son is going to be just fine.” Minutes turned into hours as we waited, prayed and spoke with faith that he was going to be fine. All the while deep inside of me, doubt was whispering in my ear, telling me things were not going to be okay, that my son’s life would be forever changed because of this injury.

God is not intimidated by bad news, or our fears; and He is not offended by our honest prayers.

Finally, the doctor came back. Before she said a word, I just knew that I had won the battle against doubt and God had answered our prayer! Then the doctor look right at us and said, “There is internal bleeding and it is putting a lot of pressure on his brain. We may have to do emergency brain surgery. We are not sure what the damage is so far, but I have the neuron surgeon on the phone…”

I was crushed. That was probably the single most terrifying moment of my life. I don’t often cry, but I walked out of the room and wept bitterly. In that moment, I was scared and all my faith seemed foolish. With just a few words, doubt grew from a small whisper in my ear to a huge monster which had me by the throat. It seemed that all our praying and believing had amounted to nothing as my faith was being strangled to death by the reality of our situation.

God doesn’t expect us to never experience doubt

God is not intimidated by bad news, or our fears; and He is not offended by our honest prayers. When we talk about faith and doubt, we often get this idea that God rewards those who believe without ever having a wavering feeling. We think that we must trust and not allow a single thought of doubt into our minds, because if God ever knew that deep inside of us there was a gnawing and echoing question, “But…what if God doesn’t come though?” He would never answer our prayers. Yet, is that what the Bible tells us?

In Genesis 17 God appeared to Abraham for the third time in twenty-four years to tell him that he would be the father of many nations. However, he had only one child, and that was not through his wife Sarah. For twenty-four years he believed God, yet nothing had materized. As God spoke the promise again, Abraham “fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” (v.17 ESV).

Faith is taking God at his word, even when you don’t understand or cannot see how He will do it.

God heard his doubt, but that didn’t change anything. Rather, Abraham was told as a sign of the covenant, he would have to circumcise his whole household. That would not be an easy thing to do. We are talking stone knives, no anesthesia, and no antiseptic. The reality of his situation had not changed; the promise of God was still impossible. Despite his incredulity, Abraham did something that would forever change history: he acted on faith rather than doubt. The Bible tells us that when God had finished speaking, on that very same day, Abraham did just as God had told him (Gen. 17:22-23).

Faith is moving forward in spite of your doubt

You see faith is not always looking into the difficulty with your face set like flint, unflinching and never a wondering thought. Faith is taking God at his word, even when you don’t understand or cannot see how He will do it. For Abraham, his actions motivated by his faith, proved him righteous (James 2:23). Doubt may have entered his mind, but he never let it get into his heart. Rather, he believed in God, “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17 ESV).

We moved Trajan up to the ICU for continued monitoring and spent the night at his bedside waiting for the call for surgery, praying that God would move. Things did not look good, but despite my fear and my doubt, we prayed and read Psalms of God’s protection and provision. We proclaimed His unfailing love for His children. I began to pray honestly and urgently. I admitted my doubt, but I also confessed what I know to be true of my God.

Our faith is proven by our actions, not our emotions.

As the darkness of a sleepless night, laced with my son’s intermittent cries of pain, gave way to the light of morning, something began to shift. Trajan woke up and began to act normal. An additional CT scan revealed that miraculously through the night all the bleeding on his brain had vanished, the swelling had gone down and there was no brain damage! The doctor was astonished, and to this day there is not a single effect of that accident still lingering.

You see, faith is holding fast to the promises of God, despite what your mind is telling you, despite what your fear is telling you, or the reality of your situation. Our faith is proven by our actions, not our emotions. To win the battle against doubt, we must allow our actions and our words to be governed by our faith. Doubt may enter your mind, but do not let it enter your heart.