5.16.2011

doubt + faith {#159-177}

Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum.

(I doubt, therefore I think; I think, therefore I am.)

—Rene Descartes
I've known the second half of this quote forever. I think, therefore I am. Even quoted it in some of my more 'existential' moments. But only last week, when I was working on collecting quotes about doubt for work, did I discover that it was only half of the equation. That I was missing the first part.

The part about doubt.

Doubt isn't something I tend to think a lot about, until it is staring me in the face. It's one of those things that creeps up on you. If you're anything like me, you might even be able to convince yourself for a period of time that what you're feeling really isn't doubt, but something more a bit prettier... skepticism, perhaps.

But then comes the moment when you wake up in the middle of the night, and the thing sitting on the edge of your bed is none other than doubt himself, and he has no plans to let you go back to sleep.

Recently, I told my small group that my favorite person in the Bible is the father in Mark chapter 9 who brought his son to be healed of an unclean spirit by the disciples. But the disciples were unable to cast the spirit out. Jesus, after the father explained the situation to him, tells the father that anything is possible for the person who believes.

The father's response is one I have echoed in my heart so very many times, especially in the last six months:
I believe; help my unbelief! {vs. 24}
Too often, I forget that we humans are bundles of paradoxes. That we are capable of multiple and contrary things simultaneously. This father's desperate words on behalf of his son reminds me that the mixture of emotions that runs through me is perfectly normal. And this prayer has become one of my most frequent.

Sometimes I get lost in the intersection of knowing that my omnipotent God can do everything and anything, but just because He can doesn't mean that He will. Just because He is limitless, it doesn't mean that my desired, preferred, suzi-approved solution will be the one that God in His infinite and perfect wisdom will choose... especially given that my wisdom tends to be more of the selfish and human variety.

Is this doubt? Sometimes I think so, sometimes not. Most days, I think it is just the oh-so-slippery surface of faith.
“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
—C.S. Lewis
But even in the midst of all that is, and all that could be, there are bright spots. Gifts from God that shine through all the stuff that I would rather forget, illuminating them in a way that I don't believe I would have ever seen them.

It is these gifts that I continue to count today...

159:: a new hair color & the absence of gray!

160:: a quiet, restful day on the sofa to nurse a cold.

161:: that even after days of not writing down the gifts, they are still there, waiting for me to notice them.

162:: a plane ticket to Calgary, and a chance to hang out with my favorite little people for a whole week in June!

163:: closing my office door behind me at the end of a long week, knowing I worked well, and everything is ready for Sunday.

164:: that no matter what happens—or doesn't happen—God is love.

165:: that I was born in a free country, into a family that loved and protected me.

166:: for my mom.

167:: the fact that you don't have to be a biological parent to make spiritual investments into the next generation.

168:: laughter at work.

169:: a quiet, peaceful morning.

170:: for a niece and nephews that I couldn't love more if I had given birth to them myself.

171:: that doubts are not fatal.

172:: friends who seek me out to pray with me when my heart is breaking.

173:: the perfect cafe Americano.

174:: that after the tickle-torture part of the pedicure, the massage part comes.

175:: khaki-colored toe nails.

176:: the knowledge of eternity, and how things here are hardly the end.

177:: that doubt and faith can co-exist, and that faith can win.



2 comments:

Steph said...

"that doubts are not fatal" and "that doubts and faith can co-exist, and that faith can win" - yes!

bellaverita said...

One of my favorite stories, Suzi. I love that Jesus doesn't reprimand the father for being honest about his doubt. He brings healing. Grateful God is merciful to meet us where we are. Having ?'s in the midst of pain is human. Asking for help - "help my unbelief" - is met with grace, for which I'm so grateful. Praying for you, my friend. Thank you for sharing this moving & honest post.

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