God has asked me to step out of my comfort zone many times. Start writing. Who me? Start speaking. Are You sure, Lord? Move to another church. Did I hear You right, Lord?
I sit on my couch this afternoon pondering and praying. Lord, what doubts have I struggled with? Like a heavy blanket, despair and gloom settled upon me. I doubt this world will ever return to how we knew it a few years ago. I doubt COVID will ever become a thing of the past. At times, I doubt that God will ever save my daughter, whom I’ve prayed for so long.
If you are breathing, you most likely are doubting, but we don’t have to live under the dark cloud of doubt. That’s what the enemy of our souls wants. Ever since the Garden of Eden, his strategy has been to place doubt in our minds.
He didn’t make Eve sin; he made her doubt God’s goodness, even while living in a perfect paradise. Eve acted on that doubt, believing God was holding out on her. One doubt led the entire world into sin.
I have found some ways to shake off the heaviness of doubt. God desires for us to walk in truth, not the devil’s lies. Let’s look at five ways we can overcome doubt:
In Mark 9, a disheartened father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus and His disciples. The father explained that a spirit had robbed his son of his speech, and it seized him, throwing him to the ground. Many times, it threw him into the fire or water to kill him (Mark 9:17-18). The father begged Jesus to help his son, and Jesus explained that everything is possible for those who believe (Mark 9:23).
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV)
Jesus has asked me if I believe. Have you heard those tender words tugging at your heart too? He knows our thoughts better than we do, so we cry out like this father. Jesus, help my unbelief!
This father, like us, had doubts. When doubt begins knocking at your mind’s door, go to Jesus. Ask Him to help your unbelief.
2. Take Thoughts Captive
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that even though we live in the world, we don’t wage war like the world (2 Cor. 10:3). Paul spoke concerning spiritual warfare. We don’t use worldly weapons, but our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). Then Paul explained how this battle occurs in our minds:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
Doubt begins in our minds. We can’t control the thoughts that enter our minds, but we decide whether they will take up residence. We must use caution and examine those thoughts, and discern their source. Are they worldly thoughts? Are they thoughts planted by the enemy? Are they the truth of God? Once we reveal the source of our thoughts, we can remove the harmful ones.
Find some favorite Bible verses that can speak to the doubts you often face. Write them down, or memorize them. Keep them handy to replace those doubtful lies with God’s truth.
Here’s an example: We all struggle with finances, especially in this time of inflated prices. When I find doubt slipping in, I remind myself that God is my provider.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NIV)
I can put those financial woes to rest by allowing that verse to replace my doubts.
3. Draw Near to God
The Apostle Peter possessed the desire to stay in close proximity to Jesus. Along with James and John, he witnessed the transfiguration. Peter was the only disciple who wanted to get out of the boat and brave the stormy waves of the Sea of Galilee to walk on the water with Jesus. Even though Peter denied his Lord three times, Jesus restored Peter as they shared breakfast (John 21:15-17).
All these experiences culminated in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We might wish we could have Jesus here right now, in the flesh, but we have something even better. We have Jesus within us working through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can share the same intimacy Peter and Jesus shared. Jesus becomes real to us through His Word, worship, and prayer. We’ll discuss the Bible in the next section, so for now, let’s focus on drawing near to God through worship and prayer.
I love to turn on some praise and worship music. When the right song plays at the right time, I drop everything I am doing and have church. I lift my hands and praise my Lord. Thankfulness and praise begin erupting from my mouth like lava from a volcano. In those moments, I feel God’s powerful presence.
You might prefer a different form of worship. Perhaps getting out in nature causes you to worship.
Prayer is another time when God becomes so real to me. I don’t just talk to Him, but I give Him times of silence to speak to my heart. Daily times of worship and prayer give us a closer relationship with our Lord.
When doubt arises, we know Jesus experientially, like Peter. In his second epistle, Peter penned:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)
The Greek word for knowledge here indicates that intimate closeness. Through that intimacy, we access His divine power, which gives us everything we need for a godly life. How can we doubt when God’s divine power works in us to give us all we ever need?
When I became too busy for God, doubt controlled my thoughts. I lacked the relationship necessary to appropriate His power. It’s difficult to have a relationship when you don’t talk much or spend time together. How can you make spending time in prayer and worship a priority in your life beginning today?
4. Become Familiar with the Word of God
Good Bible study habits carry as much weight as prayer and worship. Through His Word, we draw even closer as we get to know God. We learn about God’s nature and characteristics. We know His desires for us and realize His great love for us.
Peter had something to say about the Word of God:
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4 NIV)
As I pray, I open my Bible app and read. God speaks to us through His Word, and I love praying through the promises Peter wrote about.
I pray Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) often:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
Each time I recite that verse, doubt has to flee. Disappointed doesn’t even describe how I felt this morning when my voice-over feature failed to work on my cell phone. As a blind woman, technology has blessed me with the ability to use a cell phone like anyone else, until it stops working.
I went for my walk, and I prayed about the phone. I had the idea to turn off the Voice-over feature. About one block later, I slipped my phone out of my pocket and clicked the side button three times, activating voice-over. It came to life!
God is able to do above and beyond what we ask or imagine. He even fixes cell phones. Find other verses that become your sword to use when the battle of doubt arises.
5. Obey—Just Do It
Within this exterior of a bold author and speaker exists a shy, former introvert. God has asked me to step out of my comfort zone many times. Start writing. Who me? Start speaking. Are You sure, Lord? Move to another church. Did I hear You right, Lord? The biggest step of obedience occurred in 2016, when I flew by myself to New York City to live at a guide dog school for three weeks and train with a guide dog. Doubt tried stopping me every day, but I refused to listen. Instead, I listened to God’s truth. I leaned into my heavenly Father, and I just did it.
Always make sure you hear the Lord clearly when He leads you into new territory, but once you confirm God’s desires for you, just do it. Don’t allow doubt to stop you.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
Now you have a battle plan to stop doubt in its tracks. It’s the enemy’s favorite weapon, but you can overcome when you ask God to help your unbelief, take those doubts captive, develop an intimate relationship with God, become familiar with the Word, and act in obedience. Never let doubt stop you again!