In 2016, I’m going to cut down the doubt in my life.
Step one was writing that sentence. As soon as that period was in place I was immediately tempted to rewrite the whole thing to say “In 2016, I’m seriously going to try to lessen some of the doubts in my life. Occasionally. To what I feel at the time is the best of my ability.” But if I doubt my ability to lose my doubt to begin with, my odds of tackling the bigger ones seem to go down dramatically.
So there it is. The first battle to overcome doubt comes down to a hopeful willingness to acknowledge that it’s a battle that can be won.
And it is a battle that needs to be won. It’s certainly a battle that needs to be fought, at the very least. Doubt is one of Satan’s greatest tools for bringing us down, keeping us quiet, and diminishing our light. Here are three doubts to get rid of in the coming year.
Doubting Our Abilities
Call me crazy, but I fully believe that women in particular struggle with this one. There’s nothing like the uncomfortable feeling in an interview when you’re asked about your greatest strengths and you think, “really? Isn’t this going to come off a little…braggy?” Jennifer Lawrence made headlines this year when she addressed the gender pay inequality in one of her recent blockbusters. Refreshingly, rather than giving the typical “blame the patriarchy” response, she took responsibility for herself. She didn’t want to to appear “difficult” or “spoiled” and so she discounted her value to make things flow easier.
Look, I just checked my phone and as of five seconds ago nobody is really after to me to headline their next blockbuster, but I get where she’s coming from. It’s easy to want to downplay your talents and abilities and do your best to go with the flow and not call attention to yourself. That’s not entirely a bad thing. Paul definitely encourages us not to “think of [ourselves] more highly than we ought” (Rom. 12:3). But he also immediately goes on to say to acknowledge that, as part of a body, we each have specific gifts and abilities and talents given to us by God.
Why does it matter that we don’t doubt our God-given abilities? Because if we diminish them and act like they don’t exist, we won’t use them. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom. 12:6). Friends, God has made you who you are for a reason. Don’t devalue His gifts and reject what He’s given you, but use it to shine for His glory.
Doubting Our Value
This isn’t the same as abilities, although sometimes it feels that way. It’s easy to think that if we do enough, shine enough, are enough, then we’ll be valuable enough to earn God’s love. It can feel a bit like cheating to think the God of all creation loves us just for us, but that’s just something we’re going to have to get over.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Nothing you can do is good enough to make God love you. And nothing you can do is awful enough that He won’t. God made you, and therefore He loves you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s a beautiful, incomprehensible thought that will make our lives instantly better the moment we accept it.
Doubting Our Salvation
Okay, I’m going to have to respectfully say that John Calvin got some of it wrong. The idea of “Perseverance of the Saints” just isn’t found in Scripture. Every single individual has within their ability to reject God and choose not follow Him. Otherwise, the majority of the New Testament would be rendered pointless, what with all the teachings for how to live in order to stay faithful (Luke 8:13, Heb. 6:6, 2 Pet. 3:17, Rev. 2:5, and so on).
But, the idea that you need to live every second in fear that you’re not living up to God standards isn’t right either. It’s not a new struggle either. The whole goal behind the writing of 1 John was to give the Christians confidence:
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
(1 John 5:13-14)
“That you man know that you have eternal life.” God didn’t send His Son to die for us so that we would spend our whole lives in doubt of whether or not He really intends to save us in the end. He knew we wouldn’t be perfect, even after becoming Christians. That was never a requirement. He expects us to give our lives completely to Him, and that’s not an easy task by any means, but He’s already anticipated that we’ll fall short at times.
This year, I ask that you join me. Get rid of the doubt. Get rid of the fear. Don’t doubt yourself and the way the God made you. Don’t doubt your abilities and and thus refuse to use them for His purpose. Don’t doubt how much He loves you and let your light grow dark. And certainly don’t doubt how much He has a place in Heaven for you if you’re faithful to Him.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7