Permission to be Weak and Have Doubts

shield-of-faithI usually associate faith with strength.  I mean, as Christians, our faith should be strong, right?  But think about this: which arm does the warrior use to hold up his shield in battle?  His weaker arm!

If I’m a soldier in battle, I am going to use my stronger arm to wield my weapon: my sword or my spear or axe or mace – and I will then use my weaker arm to hold up my shield for defense.

In the previous two posts, I have been describing the Shield of Faith from the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18.  The first post explained how the shield of faith extinguishes Satan’s fiery attacks, and the second post explained what faith is and how it can be a shield for us.

So this concept of the shield being held by the warrior’s weaker arm – what is that about?  What’s the connection?  Why would the Armor of God include holding up faith – something that we often associate with strength and power – why would this be identified with our weaker arm in the midst of battle?

I find this point to be very interesting.  All throughout the Bible, God uses the weak things of the world and in humanity to demonstrate His powerful faithfulness.

Matt 17 20God even assures us that even if we only have the tiniest bit of faith, great things can still happen (Matthew 17:20).  This is because our faith is not about us being strong; it’s about God’s character being strong and being demonstrated through our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

When my family went to work with Mercy Ships, one of the leaders of our introductory training time was teaching about faith.  He said, “Faith is dependent on its object.  If you have very little faith in a thick sheet of ice, it will still hold you up.  Conversely, if you have great faith in a thin sheet of ice, it will still let you down.”  –Nils Swanson

2 Cor 12 9-10Faith isn’t about us – it’s about the thing we are putting our faith in.  In this case, our faith is not in our own strength or abilities, but in the nature and character of God.

One of the Mercy Ships Chaplains, LuWanna Airheart, once said, “It’s not the size of your faith, but the object of your faith that really matters.  A little faith placed in a great big God is huge!”

Pastor Rick Warren writes about our doubts – that great weakener of our faith.  Warren writes, “Doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.  Most people do just the opposite.  They doubt their beliefs and believe their doubts – that’s backwards!  Believe what God has said in His Word.”

Sometimes the shield of faith hangs tenuously beside the weaker side of our body.  And even when there are doubts, we feebly lift up the shield of faith – trusting not in our strength, but in the strength of God’s character – and God is greatly glorified through this act of faith-filled obedience.

C.S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters, “Satan’s cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do God’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of God seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Even a weak and feeble faith accomplishes much in the spiritual realm, because it is not a faith in our own strength, it is faith acting in God’s strength.  And that is where faith’s real power comes from.

There may be any number of flaming arrows flying at you right now:

  • stress,
  • loneliness,
  • fatigue,
  • feeling overwhelmed by a mountain of responsibility,
  • feeling overwhelmed by the suffering of those you are not equipped to help.
  • homesickness,
  • interpersonal conflicts.
  • various unmet expectations about your working duties or your living situation.
  • anxiety over what you need to accomplish.
  • pressure to perform or produce more and more and more.

Tonight, before you go to sleep, I’d like to ask you to read Hebrews 11 – just read about the faithful people listed there.  And as you read, ask God these 2 questions: (1) “What kinds of fiery arrows is the evil one shooting at me right now?“  (2) “And what assurance can You give me from Your Word to increase my faith in those areas where I am under attack?”

Here is my prayer for you: I pray that you would not bear the weights of life alone.  That you would trust in the powerful Presence of God to carry the burdens with you, and for you.  That you would raise up your shield of faith, no matter how weak or doubt-filled that arm may be.  And that God would enable your faith-shield to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

And here is a simple but powerful prayer you can memorize and lift up to God at any time from His Word: The disciples said to Him: “Lord, increase our faith!” –Luke 17:5

One response to “Permission to be Weak and Have Doubts

  1. Hi Nick and Diana,

    I’m thinking of the two of you and the kids. I’m not sure what your week looks like but I am hoping that you will have the fun food that you have missed, play hard with the kids, treasure all your family and friends and find some quiet places too!

    Nick…encouraging and “faith building” post…THANK YOU!

    Have a great second week of Advent!

    Diana

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