“Go not up, for the Lord is not among you, that you be not struck down before your enemies.”
Numbers 14: 42
“Doubt In The Desert”
“None but the Lord Himself can afford us any help from the awful workings of unbelief, doubtings, carnal fears, murmurings. Thank God one day we will be done forever with “unbelief.”
Arthur W. Pink
Has there been a time in my life when I doubted God’s love and guiding hand?”
“Too often we forget that the great men of faith reached the heights they did only by going through the depths.”
“Where do you live? Many a believer lives in the ‘cottage of doubt’ when (she) might live in the ‘mansion of faith.’”
C. H. Spurgeon
My Uncle Mel is an expert pilot. For many years, he and his wife Tish would fly once a week to a small hospital in Northeastern Arizona to perform orthopedic surgery on patients who couldn’t get to his office in metropolitan Phoenix. One time, I was talking with Uncle Mel about the things he had learned as a pilot. One of the most important lessons he said he had learned was to follow what the instruments said. He told me that when flying, especially in bad weather, what you think you see and what you feel, may be totally wrong. You can feel you are flying right side up when in fact you’re upside down. So you must trust what the instruments say, rather than what your senses tell you.
We humans are sometimes a lot like planes flying in bad weather – we feel everything in our lives is all wrong, when in fact, if we went to the King of navigators, we’d find out He has a well-laid-out plan if only we would follow Him.
In Numbers 14, right on the border of Canaan, God told the children of Israel they were going to the “land of milk and honey.” God showed this to His children. He promised His children and in fact, He promised He would lead them. But in the darkness of negativity caused by giants and walled cities, the people began to doubt what God said. Soon the doubting turned into unbelief. When God heard His children had rejected His guidance into Canaan, He gave the children of Israel what they asked for – a life in the desert. But when God granted these unbelievers their request, not only did they doubt His love but they also doubted His ability to lead them at all. As Frances Ridley Havergal so aptly noted, “Doubt indulged soon becomes doubt realized.” This is exactly what happened to God’s children. Doubting God as their leader led directly to the rejection of God as their leader. Before they knew it, they decided they didn’t need God at all. They could lead themselves without God’s help. And even though Moses warned them and instructed them not to “go up, for the Lord is not among you,” they ignored Moses and tried taking on the powerful Amalekites and Canaanites all by themselves. I’m certain you can guess the result! They fell flat on their faces. Instead of the surrounding nations being put on the run, the Israelites sustained a whipping. The Bible says God’s children were “discomfited” or as the Hebrew states, “crushed, destroyed and broken in pieces.” What a sad result when what God wanted for His children was victory! He wanted them to vanquish their enemies – and He promised they would with His help. But the ugly face of doubt showed up at the front door and God’s children let “doubt” come in.
The great English playwright, William Shakespeare, who wrote about the heights and depths of human failure and success, had this to say about the ability of doubt, when entertained, to overcome the best of us: “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win.”
Perhaps right now you are like a pilot flying in bad weather. You feel God isn’t with you. You feel let down. You feel lost and alone. I encourage you to look to the instrument panel – God’s word and God’s guiding hand. As Raymond Edman so beautifully reminds us, “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” Our God has promised, “My compassions fail not, they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3: 22, 23, P.J.V. Paraphrase).
F – Feeling
A – Afraid
T – Trust
H – Him
“Doubt sees the obstacles,
Faith sees the way;
Doubt sees the blackest night,
Faith sees the day;
Doubt dreads to take a step,
Faith soars on high;
Doubt questions, ‘Who believes?’
Faith answers, ‘I’!”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
(Available May 2009)