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Doubt Follows Faith and Increased Faith follows Doubt

Abram (whose name God changed to Abraham) had great faith in God’s blessing. In Genesis 14, Abram refused to accept the gifts of a foreign king so that he would not compromise the inheritance Yahweh God promised. Abram didn't want some foreign king to claim that he was the source of Abram’s wealth.

“I raise my hand to Yahweh, God on High, the Lord of the heavens and the earth: ‘If I take anything that is yours...’ You will not say, ‘I am the one who made Abram wealthy.’” Genesis 14:22-23 OTE

Abram demonstrated faith in Yahweh’s blessing, but almost immediately afterward, Abram expressed doubt too. But first, God came to affirm Abram’s choice.

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I will be your deliverance, and your wages will be very big.” Genesis 15:1 OTE

In other words, God says you made the right choice, and you will be rewarded. Abram must have already doubted his decision to reject the foreign king’s blessing because the first words of God are “Do not be afraid.” But Abram also expressed doubt by challenging God, saying, in effect, “What can you really give me since I don't have any children who will inherit my possessions?” (Genesis 15:2).

Notice that God doesn't rebuke Abram for his concerns about material wealth and posterity. God doesn't tell Abram, “It’s all gonna burn!” or assure him of his spot in Heaven as if that is what really matters. The agenda of Heaven has never been to bring people there but to bring Heaven to earth. And when Heaven comes to earth, it will crush death and poverty, among many other evil things. God assured Abram that He had everything under control, including the problems of wealth and barrenness.

Abram challenged God further, saying, in effect, “How can I have an assurance of these promises?” (Genesis 15:8). God did not get angry at this request. God granted Abram assurance through a solemn oath and a covenant ritual. The ritual proclaimed that God would die like the animals in the ritual if He did not keep His promises. The irony is that God kept his promises AND died the cursed death of a broken covenant, in and through Jesus. Only our God is so faithful that He would pay for the curse of a broken covenant even though He did not break it.

When you step out in faith, you will almost always face a crisis of doubt shortly after your first step. Many people who give their lives to Christ find their life getting harder at first, not better. Like the parable Jesus told of the sower, the devil tries to snatch away the seed sown on the shallow ground (Matthew 13:1-23). God will allow your faith to be tested. Hang on and “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 NASB

God is not in the business of creating weak religious people. God is in the business of creating tried, tested, and courageous image-bearers who stand through the storms of doubt.

 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may also rejoice and be overjoyed.

1 Peter 4:12-13

If you got knocked on your butt after a step of faith, recognize that you are a soldier in training, which is why you are being tested. Don't abandon your position. Trust what you know to be true. Get up again. If you can't take the next step, you can at least stand in the fire. Be patient, and you will find Jesus standing in the fire with you. Doubt follows faith, and increased faith follows doubt. Let faith rise as you stand in the storm.

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