WEEK 2: HANG ON TO HOPE / DAY 12: Dealing with Doubt
By Pastor Courtney Hall (Thu. Dec. 9, 2021)
“No word of God shall ever fail” (Luke 1:37). But what do we do when God’s word seems too good to be true, to great to be real, or too strange to be believed?
You’ll recall Zechariah & Elizabeth, the elderly couple discussed in yesterday’s devotional. Though they’d never been able to have a child, they maintained devout faith in God (Luke 1:6). And then one day the angel Gabriel appeared to tell Zechariah that not only would his wife give birth, but that their child would grow up to be the prophesied herald of the Messiah (Luke 1:5-17), the man we know as John the Baptist (see Luke 3:1-6; cf. Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6; Mark 1:2-6; Matthew 3:1-6; 11:7-14; John 1:6-9, 19-23). Yet when God’s word seems to promise us something “beyond belief,” we may ask like Zechariah: “How can I be sure?” (Luke 1:18).
As understandable as we may find this human tendency to doubt the incredible, we ought also to recognize the satanic initiative to play on this doubt, twisting it for the sake of deception & ultimately outright rejection of God’s truth. Compare the sly suggestion of the serpent in Eden, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). What begins as a question (in which the enemy subtly but certainly misstates God’s word) becomes an assertion that God’s word cannot be trusted (Genesis 3:4-5). Yet what this really reveals is the enemy’s disposition as “the father of lies” (John 8:44).
We may feel that we’re exercising discretion if we raise the question to God, “How can I be sure if what You’re saying is true?” There certainly is value in holding a humble awareness of our human fallibility, our need to educate ourselves in the Scriptures, & the wisdom of vetting our understanding of God's words with wise elders, teachers, & leaders. But if we simply doubt that God can or will do what He has clearly said, then we're falling prey to the serpent's lies again. The best way to silence such doubts is often through quietly contemplating the faithful reliability of God’s word (Isaiah 55:10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). Perhaps this is in part why the Lord silenced Zechariah until everything spoken to him came to pass (Luke 1:20).
Sometimes holy SILENCE is a blessing that keeps us from endlessly echoing our doubts & dreads, helping us instead to HANG ON TO HOPE in what God has SAID, no matter what we see, feel, or fear. Even in the midst of this busy season, take time to get alone with God & in quiet consideration attend to the areas in your own heart where doubt may have cast its shadow. In your prayerful silence, “Be still & know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In quiet faith, believe the word of God in Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, & He will do it”—so “stop doubting & believe” (John 20:27).
SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 1:8-20
"Zechariah asked the angel, 'How can I be sure of this? I am an old man & my wife is well along in years.' The angel said to him, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, & I have been sent to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent & not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.'"