Tag Archive for child development

Doubt: Part 3–Cloudy

 

Imagine you’re at a funeral on a cloudy day.  Then the sun comes out from behind a cloud.

 

Now if you are a scientific, buttoned-down, fact-based kind of a person, the first thing you would say is that the sun didn’t move–the cloud did.  You could give a meteorological explanation of prevailing winds, condensation, etc., and you would be factually correct in your explanation.  But you would be completely missing the point.

 

Now imagine at that same funeral on that same cloudy day, you are the grieving father standing over the grave of your first-born son.

 

You have never believed in God, though you have heard of him.  You have doubts about your child’s eternal destiny, because he hadn’t been baptized, and you don’t know what is real and what is bogus from a theological standpoint, because you have little intellectual knowledge of God.

 

All you know is that you turned your life upside-down to welcome this child into the world, and now he is gone, just as quickly as he came, and your world has been turned upside-down all over again.

 

Then, through the cloudy haze of your grief, you hear what the preacher is saying over your son’s grave.  You have never heard this minister before; you don’t go to his church, you have no idea what their Statements of Belief are.  But he is speaking words of peace and comfort, and even though you don’t understand what they all mean, they ring true.

 

As he finishes speaking, and says “Amen,” at that moment, the sun comes out from behind the cloud and a single sunbeam shines down on you, the child’s mother who is sobbing in your arms, the preacher, and the open grave.

 

And you feel warmth where there was only chill, and peace where there was only chaos—a peace that passes all understanding.  A peace that you have never felt before.  And your mind connects the dots for the first time.

 

And you know that God is real.

 

You are angry with him beyond measure for taking your child from you, but you can no longer deny His existence.

 

That was me on October 4, 1989.

 

The day of my son’s funeral was the day I buried my doubt.  I still wanted nothing to do with God, but I knew He was there.

 

It took five more years for God to break through my stubbornness and get me to listen to Him, and another eight for me to finally surrender my life to Him.  Fortunately, God is patient.

 

The point of this illustration is that on that cloudy day, at that funeral, I believed, and had peace.

 

Just like when I was three years old and my parents told the noise I heard was just the wind howling through the trees and not some phantom coming to yank me out of bed, throw me around like a dog with a chew toy, then drag me off to who knows where.

 

I was not able to see the wind, but my parents told me, and I believed.  Though I did not actually know, the belief was good enough to get me to sleep.

 

(How significant is the belief of a child?  Come back for Part 4–Faith)

 

Doubt: Part 1–Object Permanence

 

As Christians, we should not be surprised when people have doubts about Jesus and God.  There were some who saw the risen Christ with their own eyes and doubted.  I’m not just talking about Thomas; some watched Him go up into heaven and STILL doubted!  As Ron Weasley would have said, “How thick could you get?”

 

There is nothing wrong with doubting in and of itself.  For example, healthy doubt and skepticism can keep us from being victimized by liars.  Nevertheless, what matters more than whether or not you doubt is what you do with your doubt.

 

It makes perfect logical sense to doubt the existence of a God you can’t see.  When we walk by sight, that is, if we will “believe it when we see it,” then it follows that we don’t believe in what we cannot see.

 

This goes all the way back to the concept of object permanence that our brains learn when we are infants.  If we can’t see Mommy or Daddy, then they have left us forever, so we cry.  But then Mommy or Daddy always shows up.  Eventually we figure out that Mommy and Daddy are real and permanent (relatively speaking) even when we can’t see them.

 

It’s really the same way with God; the only difference is how we go about seeing.  With object permanence, seeing is believing.  However, since God cannot be seen, this concept will not work.  To “see” God, you have to exercise not your eyeballs but your spirit.  This takes some learning.

 

First, you have to be aware that you even have a spirit.  We are all hard-wired to know this, but we still have to be aware of our instincts to act on them.  In other words, faith is useless if you don’t know what it is.  The Amplified Bible gives the best definition I have seen:

 

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality—faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. (Hebrews 11:1 AMP)

 

Therefore, if walking by sight means you’ll believe it when you see it, then walking by faith means you’ll see it when you believe it.

 

This is foolishness to those folks who consider themselves “fact-based.”  These people will tell you that nothing is real unless they can hold it in their hand and tell you what it looks like.

 

I’ve always liked how Billy Graham answered this contention:

 

Can you see God?  You haven’t seen Him?  I’ve never seen the wind.  I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind. There’s a mystery to it.

(So can you see the wind? Come back for Part 2–Seeing the Wind. That was kind of obvious, wasn’t it?)