August 2, 2020, James 1:1-12 – Post 3 – ISSL Reflections

Below is a link to this week’s Scripture passage –

This week as we spent time with James we have thought together by trials, joy, faith, maturity, and encouragement.

There remains one more item to consider, doubt. It’s not so much an “item” as maybe that “elephant in the room.”

James writes to us,

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-8)

We are told to ask, but then told, “But ask in faith, never doubting ….”

I find that a very hard saying! Does James “really” mean to have us believe that our “faith” must be so complete it leaves no room for doubts? Honest questions? Honest doubts?

If that’s the case, what do we make of Jesus’ encounter with the boy who suffered from some form of convulsions and his father who asked Jesus to heal the boy. The father said,

“… but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)

The father sure seems to acknowledge he has some doubt. Jesus does not tell him to go away and come back when he has found a means of pushing all doubt or unbelief from his life. No, Jesus heals the boy.

While James’ words troubled me for a long time, one day I noticed, “ … the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way ….”

I take it that James wants us to think about the questioner or doubter who is so full of questions/doubts that he can never make a decision. He goes back and forth between choices and will never pick one and live with his decision. That certainly does not describe the father Jesus spoke with. Yes, the father said his faith was not complete, but that incompleteness did not stop him from coming to Jesus and ask for his son’s healing. He made a choice, acted on it and his honest confession was not shunned by Jesus but was accepted and Jesus offered healing. Healing I suspect for the son and the father.

I cannot find myself telling anyone, “You just have to believe and never doubt.” Doubts in all kinds of settings are part of life.

But what do we do with doubt. Deny it or acknowledge it?

Who knows, it might bring you closer to Jesus.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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