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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Where to go with Doubt

   From time to time, everyone who has been taught or has embraced the Christian faith will go through periods of doubt. 
   One approach is to quit church, abandon Christian friends and plunge into a way of life that presumes God does not exist.  With that approach, the remaining spark of faith is often extinguished.
   Another approach is to talk to a person of faith about these doubts.  By doing this the doubter will find a person who has walked this road too and can share how he or she made it to the other side.  Quite likely, what the strong believer shares will cascade back to others who supported him or her through times of questioning, as the story I share today illustrates.
   As mentioned in my last post, this story is about my grandfather (Opa), who struggled with questions and doubts in his young adulthood in Rotterdam during the 1920’s.[1]  He decided to share his struggles with the pastor of a church he attended in that city.  When the pastor responded, he shared his own experience with doubt.  That doubt began to be shattered in a rather dramatic way.
   Before he became a pastor, this man encountered a street preacher in the late 19th century and listened among those who had gathered.  The street preacher was heckled by a young man from the crowd.  He brazenly shouted out, “If there is a God, then let him strike me dead right here!”  To the shock of all the witnesses, that boisterous and healthy young man did indeed drop dead on the spot.  This experience caused the previously skeptical man to re-examine his priorities in life and, eventually to turn over his life to God and become a pastor.  No doubt, there were other things that confirmed the faith of this pastor who had once doubted, including the eyewitness testimony of reliable men recorded in the Bible.  His testimony was a turning point for my Opa as well.  Staying among and continuing to talk to people of faith is often the key to fanning the spark of faith into flame again.
   My Opa continued to follow his Lord until he passed away in his 90th year.  Despite his dimentia, his faith never faded as he continued to lead his household in prayer and sang psalms and hymns from memory.  His appreciation for his wife’s caregiving also became more vocal in those later years.

[1] I am indebted to Dr. John VanDorp, MD who heard this story directly from my Opa and shared it in a sermon he preached, based on Psalm 14:1a, which states,  “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” 

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