When Faith-Crushing Doubt Slips In

Worry does nothing to help. It only destroys peace and makes things worse.

It’s been a trying couple of weeks here in the Bauhaushold. It all started a couple of weeks ago when we went to visit my mom. Actually, scratch that–it really started a few days before that, when I had a hard time getting people to provide what I needed to complete a freelance writing assignment with an impending deadline. Right there was when I started to give in to worry and let the enemy steal my peace.

By the end of the work week I had asked for and received a deadline extension, and I sighed a big sigh of relief and turned my attention to getting ready for a day at my mom’s out by the lake. I thought it would be just the break I needed to restore my equilibrium and get back my peace.

And it was a lovely break. It was a gorgeous fall day that included a stop at the lake to take in the scenery and let our dog explore, visiting with family, driving in to my home town to eat Chinese food, and exploring my old stomping grounds where I grew up. It was a perfect day in practically every way.

The trouble is that it was a little too perfect, and it left me full of longing and homesickness and despair at being stuck here in the city. My mom has a beautiful vacant lot next door to the house I grew up in, which she’s started to talk about selling, and it’s so easy for me to envision Matt and I building our dream home there–something that would be impossible without God doing something huge.

Once we were back home in the city, surrounded by air and noise pollution and crime, rather than having my peace restored by our visit, discontentment settled like a weight on my chest, and I became fixated on the idea of buying that property and building a home there. Rather than giving it to God and trusting that if that was part of His plan for us He’d make it happen–and if not, that He has something even better for us in store–I became obsessed with finding my own solution, researching and developing strategies for downsizing and even asking God to help me convince my husband to see the brilliance of my plan.

Thankfully, after a few days of being completely preoccupied with this obsession, the Lord pulled me up short (and He wisely did so before I brought it up to my husband). He began to show me the downside of my plan, and also to help me see that I was on the verge of letting that piece of property become an idol in my life. I knew I needed to pray and not only completely surrender this new dream to Him, but also to confess my lack of trust and gratitude for what I already have.

I did so, and I thought that was the end of my struggles. But while this was going on I was also continuing to have a hard time finding an agreeable interview subject for my article. I had to ask for a second deadline extension, and I knew a third wouldn’t be an option. Time was running out, and instead of praying and trusting that things would work out, I prayed and then proceeded to worry and fret and let my nerves become frazzled.

Even so, God was faithful to come through for me, providing an excellent interviewee right at the last minute. I got my article finished and turned in, and then I sat back and thought about how I’d been falling into old patterns that I had thought were a thing of the past, and I became filled with shame. Again I prayed and repented, asking God to help me be the sort of believer whose faith is strengthened by pressure instead of crushed by it.

And then the next day, this new regular writing job, that I believed had been an answer to prayer, dumped a big load of uncertainty in my lap when the lead editor announced that they were changing their focus (from pets to parenting) and expressed concern that I might no longer be a good fit*. I pleaded my case with the editor, but then didn’t hear back from her, and with urgent needs piling up faster than money was coming in, I really needed to keep this job. Having apparently not completely grasped the lessons of my previous recent stumbles, I again struggled with worry.

I wasn’t a total failure this time, though, because I realized right away that I needed to surrender this to God and trust in His provision. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, though. But as I prayed my way through it and turned to scripture, I figured out a few things. One, that worry does nothing to help the situation. It only destroys peace and makes things worse. Two, that although there are times when God allows things to go wrong in our lives in order to instruct us and turn us back toward Him, other times things start to go wrong because we are exactly where we’re supposed to be and doing what we’re supposed to do–and that makes the enemy nervous. So we come under attack in an effort to throw us off and get us to slip up.

Although I’ve definitely been in the former situation, I believe this time it was the latter. I believe that prior to my first slip up I was right where God wanted me. I had committed to trusting Him and His plan, and to waiting for Him to orchestrate the details of my life, and good things were coming of that. I had peace, for one thing, and I was content in my own home, and beginning to see amazing provision–like this writing job that had just dropped into my lap without my even looking for it. But the enemy used that job to get me to doubt all of that and fall back into old patterns of unbelief, and I allowed it to happen.

No more. A few days ago I started refusing to believe the enemy’s lies, and renewed my commitment to trusting and waiting, and not rushing around to try and solve these problems by my own power. That same day, as if to confirm that I was back on the right track, a graphic popped up in my Facebook feed from Holley Gerth, displaying Psalm 37:7:

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”

So that’s what I’m doing. And I’m happy to say that, although the pressure’s still on, I’ve got my equilibrium back, and I’m once again at peace and content to be where God wants me.

*I’m also happy to say that, as I was writing this post, I was given new assignments for my writing job. God’s provision comes through once again. So the next time I act like a fool and doubt that everything will work out for the best unless I take action and fix things, somebody please smack me and point me back to that verse.

In love,

Jean

 

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