Have you ever known you should believe something, but for some reason you couldn’t seem to? You knew that you should believe it. In fact, you wanted to believe it. But you could never feel that you believed it.
I’ve been there. In fact I go there more times than I care to admit. As an occupational hazard, I use a lot of “faith talk.” I encourage others to trust God only to see my own faith fall short from time to time.
All too often I completely identify with the man in Mark 9 who had a demon possessed son. You can read this incredible account in Mark 9:14-29.
Jesus’ disciples tried to cast out the demon, but turned a bad situation worse. Then calmly Jesus told the man, “all things are possible for one who believes.” The man replied, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
The contradiction of believing
The man’s response may sound like a contradiction. But essentially it is more an honest admission that he wants to believe even more. There is another contradiction at work in his life, one we all experience from time to time. That is the battle between what we know and what we feel. Therein lies the test of our faith.
I like to contrast this contradiction in terms of a thermometer and a thermostat. A thermometer tells us how our environment feels to us. So also, our feelings indicate how pleasant or unpleasant a current circumstance is to us.
But a thermostat works with a thermometer’s reading and adjusts the HVAC unit to adapt the environment around us. Likewise, what we know can adjust our attitude about our situation and make us more comfortable in our circumstances.
Calibrating our thermostat
What we know about the character and nature of God gives us hope that unpleasant circumstances are purposeful and temporary. As we learn about God, His purposes, and His ways we have knowledge to combat our feelings.
We will always deal with the thermometer of our feelings. But we can calibrate that thermometer of our with truth about God from His word. The thermostat of what we know adjusts the thermometer of how we feel. The unbelief that we feel is countered by the belief of what we know.
Our family right now is dealing with several situations that present an uncomfortable temperature of circumstances. It is tempting to lose heart and live in unbelief. But when we turn to the thermostat of what we know about God, we realize all things are possible.
So where are you struggling today? Go to God’s Word. Read about what a marvelous, almighty, good God we have. Let Him know what your thermometer is reading. Let Him know you are struggling to believe and that you want to believe more. Focus on Him rather than your circumstances. Eventually the thermostat of what you know will adjust the temperature of how you feel.
A native of Sandersville, Jim Duggan, a graduate of Mercer University and Southeastern Seminary, serves as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Macon.