Doubt versus Unbelief
I am a Chaplain Assistant in the United States Army. In the course of my duties, I have the opportunity to observe countless religious activities. Some of the most common events at the chapel are Bible studies. Recently, I was at work, and there was a Bible study about to begin. And as I was walking through the room on my way out of the building I heard the "teacher" say, "Today we are going to talk about unbelief and doubt". That was all of the study that I heard...but it sent into my mind the possibility that there was difference between the two...and I was profoundly impacted. Here's how...
A few years ago, when I was still a civilian, I was sitting in the break room of the store that I worked in. I was having a discussion with a coworker about a religious issue. We both held the same faith, but we were having a doctrinal debate. In retrospect it was actually a senseless argument, and I won't get into details. However, I will say that I got the better of him in the argument and made him begin to think. He couldn't refute my statement, and I immediately saw the doubt arise in his face.
As the discussion ended, my brief sense of victory changed into conviction. Had I made this guy doubt? Did it hurt his faith? I wanted to show him the truth, but did I want to shake his whole faith and destroy what he believed? God began to tell me that it was not my job to place doubts in others, but instead I should be building faith and hope. I began to feel really badly. I expressed this feeling to a friend who had listened to the whole conversation. She said to me, "well, if he doubts, then he never truly believed anyway." I took that to heart and went away feeling reassured.
But when I heard the topic of that bible study, "Doubt and Unbelief" the fact that the two were different immediately jumped out at me!
Many times I have doubted things, even things which I knew to be true. For instance, in school, I would answer a test question, and though I knew I was right, I would doubt myself and wonder if I had answered incorrectly.
We all doubt. And we all doubt God at times, anyone who says they don't is simply lying to themselves (In My Humble Opinion). But Doubt is not the same as Unbelief. We all believe the truth. We KNOW that what God's word says is true, yet sometimes lack of faith leads us to doubt. This is not the same as having never believed (unbelief).
When I let my friend convince me that "if he doubts, then he never truly believed anyway" I let them steal away from me many blessings from God. Since I have joined the Army there have been many, many times when doubt has filled my life. A cloud of uncertainty would surround me, and the
doubt would start. And in the back of my mind, I would start to think, "I must not truly believe!" However this was all a lie. It only made it more difficult to return to the light that God was trying to bring into my life.
Just because we doubt does not mean we have to accept defeat and stop believing in God. We have seen him follow through time and again...and he will continue to be faithful. Do not allow yourself to be trapped into
thinking that just because you have been overcome with some small doubt, that God does not exist. Do not be tricked into "Unbelief".
And I say all that to say this, in our discussions with people who may be confused about some issue in their faith, let's not instill doubts in them. Instead, let's nurture the faith that they do have. Build upon their BELIEF. Continually building their faith, and nurturing their spirit through prayer will do far more than arguing with them and instilling doubt. And to those who are caught in UNBELIEF, which is total rejection of God's truth, we should present to them abundant faith. We should pray blessings upon their life so that they may begin to see that the God that they don't believe in is truly alive.
Copyright© Adolfo Cisnero