Topic:Faith and Doubt
I took the deed of purchase — the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy — and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard. In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”
What a ringing testimony to the power and greatness of God! God had said the land ultimately would be restored, and this deed would be valid. Therefore, it was to be put in a safe place. That is what Jeremiah did. He sent Baruch down to the title company and had him bring a deed to be signed. He acted before witnesses, and had the witnesses sign the deed and the copy — one to be sealed in a safe deposit box, the other to be kept by Jeremiah himself and passed on to his heirs, so that eventually they might claim title to this land. He worked in this normal way, and then clearly announced the purpose of it all: “It is because God says there will be houses and fields and vineyards bought in this land again.”
Faith takes no halfway measures. There is no hedging of Jeremiah’s bets here, no saying to these people, “Well, I’m just buying this property on speculation, hoping it will all work out, but it’s just a gamble, a shot in the dark.” No, he assures them that God has spoken, and that everything he is doing is consistent with the word of God.
Later in chapter 32, another quality of faith comes in. Beginning with verse 16 and continuing through verse 25, a remarkable prayer of Jeremiah is recorded. These are Jeremiah’s private thoughts about this deed. Before men this prophet is bold and resolute and confident. But before God he admits that he is not quite so sure this is all going to work out. He says to the Lord in verse 25, “And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign Lord, say to me, “Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.”” I am glad this account is here, because this is what we might call “the doubtings of faith.”
Faith always has its doubts. I once had the impression that if you doubted, you could not have faith — that faith and doubt were contrary to one another. But I gradually began to understand that this is not true. Doubt is the proof of faith. Doubt is actually an attack upon the very faith we have. You cannot have doubts unless you have faith. Faith is the way God works, and so the enemy is bound to attack your faith immediately as he sees you beginning to act and live and walk by faith. Therefore doubts will begin to arise — as a result of Satan’s attempt to overthrow your faith. There is no faith without doubts.
Jesus himself, though he always lived by faith, and everything he did was by faith, nevertheless was subjected to times of severe doubt. Otherwise he was not “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning,” (Hebrews 4:15 RSV). Doubt is part of the life of faith. If you are trying to walk by faith in a promise God has given you, and you are troubled by doubts, this is the proof you are really living by faith. Hang in there! Do not let your doubts overthrow you.
Father, thank you for reminding me of the kind of God you are. I rest upon your faithfulness, praying that I will be strengthened by faith to walk as the prophet walked in the midst of my own challenging times.
Are we learning to see our doubts as corollary to our faith? Do we process our doubts through what we have proven to be true? Have we experienced the holy fear of audacious faith?