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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Faith & Doubt

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  July 5, 2019 --

Lord, if it’s you, Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14

I think most of us can identify with Peter in the above episode. Faith is a wonderful thing; it can move mountains. But once a bit of doubt creeps in our faith may suddenly weaken, and we begin to sink, sometimes rapidly.

One definition of faith is trust in God. This is epitomized in the Old Testament by Abraham’s faithful trusting in God despite the twelve times that God put Abraham to the test, including the call for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Of course, it is possible that Abraham sometimes had his doubts, but they don’t appear in the Biblical record.

As for the rest of us, and for the rest of the Biblical record, doubt runs rampant. The most famous example to most of us is “Doubting Thomas”, who, when told that Jesus had been resurrected, stated that he would not believe until he could touch Jesus’s wounds. Eight days later Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other apostles, and Thomas’s immediate reaction was to say, “My Lord and my God”. Doubt was instantaneously replaced by belief.

Jesus on several occasions rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith. In Matthew 8 Jesus and the disciples are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a fierce storm arises, terrifying the disciples. Jesus is awakened by them, and his immediate response is to say “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith”. Then he rebukes the storm into calm. One can imagine him then going back to sleep. And in Luke 17 we read the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

So, doubt is ever the enemy of faith, keeping our faith from growing, holding us back. Perhaps we should remember every time that faith has won out, and use this experience to hold back doubt.



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