Without a Doubt

Tucked in between James' teaching on trials are two verses that we hold close to our hearts.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" —James 1:5, 6 NIV.

Obviously verses like these apply to everything in life, but I find it interesting that they appear in this particular spot like sliced beef between two slices of whole grain bread. Since nothing in Scripture is irrelevant, the placing of these two verses must have a special meaning in the context.

What do I do in the face of this trial? That's the kind of question that demands that we go to God and ask for His wisdom. We are never more vulnerable to making wrong decisions or reacting badly as when we are undergoing trials. During these times we need to lean heavily on God so that we make no mistakes in our handling of the situation.

And God gives generously—no withholding, no giving then snatching away, no silence, no rebukes.

But I think the most important part of these verses is the second half. I remember hearing John Piper talk about his struggle in his preaching. He'd ask God to give him the words to say and the manner in which he should say them. He'd then go out to preach lacking the assurance that God had answered him. He'd berate himself afterward for not saying what he should have or not saying it the right way. That's doubting God. That's lack of faith. Piper said that when we ask for wisdom, our actions and thoughts after we have asked reveal whether or not we really do believe that God has responded to our prayer.

The same is true in our trials. If I ask God to guide me, to make sure that whatever decision I make is what He wants, to close the inappropriate doors, open the appropriate ones, to give me strength, to keep me faithful, to help me react appropriately, then I must believe that He has done, and will do, exactly that. To do otherwise is a lack of faith.

And we all know that doubting God's ability and desire to respond to our needs in the midst of difficulties is a killer, creating in us anxiety, stress, anger, and guilt.

A dozen times a day I ask God for wisdom. And sometimes a dozen times a day I go back to God to ask forgiveness for doubting His provision—especially when it doesn't come when, and in the form, that I expect it, or especially when it comes and I'm not sure that what has come is from God.

Faith is believing without a doubt.

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