The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. (2 Kefa/Peter 3:9)
The Thing about Doubt
But Adonai Yeshua said to them, “Why are you so upset? Why are these doubts welling up inside you?” (Luke 24:38)
Why do doubts well-up inside us? What an intriguing question I have been asked. This poses for me a challenge, for the response crosses boundaries – the spiritual, the emotional, the psychological. Let’s examine the psychological first.
There are two aspects of our minds, I wish to explore, which have a bearing on the phenomenon of doubt; the first is expectation. Expectation is the strong belief of something occurring. It is based on an absolute certainty that when what is expected (an event, an action) does not occur, it shakes our belief and creates doubt. The most common cause of conflict amongst people, especially couples, is unmet expectation. Understandably, the connection between expectation and conflict is such an important relationship, Scripture weighs-in. For example, in Proverbs 10:28, we read – “What the righteous hope for will end in joy; what the wicked expect will come to nothing.” Why is expectation related to evil?
When we ‘expect’, either something to occur or someone to deliver, that has the effect of placing our beliefs upon them. This is demanding others, including God, to deliver. When that doesn’t occur, we may experience a range of emotions, from disappointment to hopelessness. I see this phenomenon occurring often, regarding people’s expectations of God. Whenever disaster strikes, naturally or human created, many people blame God first and, if they get past this pain, perhaps others’ behaviours. I have on many occasions heart the painful cry, “How could a loving God allow such a thing to occur?” This is the result of expectation, putting God into our neat, compact boxes, believing He is here for us and not us for Him. Often this is the turning point, when otherwise strong believers suddenly become estranged from the Lover of their Souls. Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, spoke about this, when he taught through the Parable of the Sower, as recorded in Luke 8:14, “As for what fell in the midst of thorns these are the ones who hear; but as they go along, worries and wealth and life’s gratifications crowd in and choke them, so that their fruit never matures.”
What then is the difference between hope and expectation?
Whereas expectation is a strongly held belief in something occurring, hope may be defined as a desire for something to occur. Do you notice the subtle difference? The difference between a desire and a strongly held belief is exponential, meaning the gap between then is astronomical. For example, if I expect that my beloved wife will make my dinner tonight and she calls me and explains that she has a meeting, which will go late, and she won’t be home to make dinner, there lies the potential for conflict, as expectations are not flexible. However, if I have a desire for my wife to make dinner, because of her skill at cooking, and she is unable to do so, the potential for conflict is vastly diminished, since desires are inherently more flexible than expectation.
The second psychological factor in doubt, perspective, also leads many to conflict. Perspective speaks about how we view the world around us. Are we rigid in our understanding of the world and how things function within it or are we flexible in our perception of how things work. If we think in terms of right and wrong, black and white, then we immediately create expectations. Unfortunately, most people do not consciously understand their own world perspectives, as they exist in our sub-conscious minds. Thus, when they are confronted with behaviour which supports the claim their world-view is rigid, the typical response is denial. Only through deep introspection, facilitated with a guide, will deniers uncover the reality of their perspectives. In Part II of our focus on doubt, I will draw together the impacts of both expectation and perspective on the creation of doubt, both self-doubt and doubt of God.
CONSIDER: Do you harbour expectations about God and His relationship with you? Is your world-view flexible or rigid? How open to changing your assumptions about God and others’ behaviours, as they relate to you?
ACTION: I urge each one of us to engage in critical self-reflection, with a close confidant, who will, with love and care, help you explore the expectations you have about the world and God.
PRAY: Abba B’Shamayim, Father in Heaven, I humbly ask You to show me my true beliefs, not merely what I think I believe. Help me face them; send someone on my path who, with loving care, will help me explore and come to You in supplicant pray of help. In Your Beloved Name I pray.