I’ve been serving in ministry for close to 3 decades. More than that, I’ve been a Christian for almost 4 decades. And yet, at times, I still struggle with unbelief. Can you relate? If you can, read on. If you cannot, God bless you. You’ve already died and gone to Heaven.
Christians struggle with unbelief too.
I’ve seen God at work on many occasions, and yet at times, my thoughts can be haunted by questions: “Is there really a God who reigns over Heaven and Hell? Is the Bible real? Truly, if the stakes are this high, wouldn’t the truth be much easier to understand? Why do I still struggle?!" Perhaps many of you would direct my attention to Romans 1:19-20:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
I know this verse well, as well as many others, and yet at times, I still struggle with unbelief. Honestly, I think we all do.
Let's consider an example from the Bible.
I can certainly relate to the perplexed father in Mark 9 who says, “I believe. Help my unbelief!” Consider the context. In Mark 9:14-28, this father is crying out to Jesus regarding his son who has been possessed by a demon. Let's take a look starting in verse 17:
"'Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.' And he answered them, 'O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.' And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, 'How long has this been happening to him?' And he said, 'From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.'”
Jesus immediately picks up on the doubt in this father's last statement and responds with, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Read the following excerpt from Walter W. Wessel and Mark L. Strauss on how the father responds to Jesus’ words:
"Jesus’ statement, which is really a promise, elicited faith from the father. 'I do believe,' he exclaimed; but he recognized that his faith was far from perfect (v. 24). It was still mixed with unbelief. So in a beautiful display of honesty, he asked Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. He declares that he believes and yet acknowledges himself to have unbelief. These two statements may appear to contradict each other but there is none of us that does not experience both of them in himself."
Here's the TikTok cure for unbelief. Well, sort of . . .
For those of you who know me well, you know that I mostly loathe social media. In my opinion, it’s an attack/retreat, a perfect slice of life, a political hack job, a brag book, and a fake filter kind of platform. (Now, before I get quite a bit of hate mail on this one, I will concede that God does use social media for his glory.) I recently discovered a social media platform that has been quite helpful. TikTok. But not for the reasons you may think.
TikTok is a video platform that shows you short videos in your "feed" based upon an algorithm of which short videos you’ve been watching. The more “screen time” you give to a particular genre, the more that genre will show up in your "feed." There is a wide range of genres ranging from "how-to" videos to inappropriate content to Christians dissecting Scripture. Essentially, TikTok gives back what you put in.
I started noticing that the videos showing up in my “feed” were leaning more toward the tasteless side when it came to content. How could this be? In my mind, I give all my time and attention to the Christian videos and quickly skip the others. But algorithms don’t lie. I can certainly deceive myself. I’ve since deleted TikTok but not without learning a valuable lesson.
We also must analyze the algorithm of our life.
When I’m struggling with unbelief, I realize that I’ve allowed my life’s algorithm to be skewed away from the Word of God and weighed toward other things. This never happens overnight but rather over time. The less I allow God’s Word to pierce my heart, the more I struggle to trust its authenticity. But like the father in the text above, the voice of God causes me to believe and trust again.
Perhaps you've read the Bible backward and forward. Perhaps you've even been to Bible College. You may serve the Lord faithfully every day, but unless you spend time daily in the life-giving Word of God, you are easily prone to let other voices speak louder than the voice of God - and that's a dangerous place to be. Let the algorithm of unbelief be your warning shot across the bow to get back into the Word.
It takes faith!
By the way, I have volumes upon volumes of books proving Jesus is who he said he was and proving that his resurrection did indeed happen, but none of those books have the power to pierce and transform me like a daily dose of God’s Word. You cannot find rest in fact alone. It takes faith!
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
May you find encouragement for your heart, strength for each day, hope for tomorrow, and renewed peace each day as you begin to set your mind daily on God's unfailing words.