A Faith Response
“Are you sure we should have turned right?”
Your helpful friend in the passenger seat is just trying to get you both to dinner on time, but for one split second she has rocked your world. For a split second, you are questioning the direction you were sure of just a moment ago and your confidence is shaken.
Questions can be destabilizing.
There are seasons of life when bigger questions leave you feeling shaken for more than just a split second. I have had those seasons. Times when not much about my circumstances have changed, but there is a persistent question deep in my heart that is sending a tremor through the ground on which my faith is built.
Is God really good…to me?
What if I am wrong about what I was taught or believe?
Can our interpretation of the Bible ever really be trusted?
When we find ourselves in seasons of questioning, we can react with a natural fight/flight/freeze response, or we can intentionally pursue a faith response in the only One who can provide sure footing on solid ground.
Faith, not Fight
Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
During seasons in which nagging questions are our constant companions, we can tend to get a little edgy. The instability that we feel on the soul level begins to bubble up in tremors that directly impact our actions. Sensing that an enemy to our soul’s peace is about, we go looking for a fight. The problem comes when we focus on sniffing out the enemy rather than crying out to our Defender.
Sometimes we can come to believe that the enemy is a viewpoint or belief. When that happens, we start pointing arrows at those on the “other side” of an issue, or even back at our own side in self-defense against the imagined traitorous campaign that they have mounted against us, to keep us in the dark or under control. Evidence of this can be seen by anyone who scrolls through angry social media posts.
Sometimes we can turn on the question itself as the enemy. We surmise that if we could quiet the question, then stability will return to our soul. So we deny that we have questions, or we try to have more faith. Sometimes we try to defeat the question with more knowledge, more theology, more inspirational Bible verse memes.
A Faith Response: Notice that in Psalm 27:11 David, the author, does not focus on fighting his enemies. Because of his enemies, he goes to the Lord with his requests. David doesn’t come out fighting, he comes out reaching for the One who can teach us Truth and bring our souls to stable ground. Like a child teetering on a street curb reaches up to grab his father’s hand for balance, calling out to the Lord for wisdom and a level path that only He can provide is faith’s response to an out-of-balance soul.
David doesn’t come out fighting, he comes out reaching for the One who can teach us Truth and bring our souls to stable ground.
Faith, not Flight
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
In medieval Europe, castles were not designed to be luxury palaces for royalty. A castle provided a literal place of refuge for the entire nearby town. If the enemy attacked, the peasants who lived and worked outside the castle walls would stream through the gates and hide from the enemy within the fortress, or stronghold.
When niggling doubts assail us and threaten our comfort, which fortress do we run to in hopes of protection? And does it provide the defense we seek? Does it save us?
If we are honest with ourselves, unsettling questions can send us running for refuge to shoddy castles that don’t deliver on the promise of peace that they advertise. Instead of finding ourselves calmed and settled, our subpar castles can leave us disappointed, bitter, and addicted. And how many of us can relate to seeking refuge in the castle of “self”; pulling away from anything or anyone that causes us to face our questions, only to find ourselves isolated and insecure, still not having found any solid ground?
A Faith Response: Notice that the Lord is David’s stronghold in Psalm 27:1. Not the church, not correct theology, not the many good gifts that God has given. The Lord himself! Our stronghold is a Person. And when we run to that Person in the face of persistent questions, David’s confident and grounded response can be our own: of whom shall I be afraid? The questions that trouble our souls will find their proper place behind the protective wall of our Savior’s love.
Faith, not Freeze
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
When fighting or fleeing our unsettling questions requires more energy than we have, we may be tempted to freeze. To simply “play dead”, like an animal trying to dodge a predator. We ignore the disruptive thoughts in our minds and hearts and wait for them to pass.
A Faith Response: In Psalm 24:14, David is waiting but he is not “playing dead”, ignoring trouble until it goes away. No, David’s waiting is intentional! He is not waiting for the empty promise of a trouble-free life or a question-free mind. He is waiting for the Lord. He knows the Lord is strong when he is not. That the Lord’s power and goodness can infuse him with the courage he is lacking. So instead of “playing dead”, we can be fully alive and alert, waiting for our Lord who always acts in His perfect time.
So when unsettling questions bubble up in our souls, let’s follow David’s lead and reach up for our Father’s stable hand, run to Him as our Stronghold, and wait for Him with strength and courage. Perhaps we will even begin to welcome our questions when they propel us into the presence of our God.