It is my intention to take a serious look at an issue that at first glance may not seem to be in order during the week just before Christmas. This is supposed to be a period of anticipation and celebration for those of us who proclaim the glory of Jesus Christ. However there are those for whom this is not a period of great joy.
There are those who are suffering through personal tragedies, deaths and disappointments. So widespread is this concern for those who suffer at what should be a happy time of the year that many churches have created what is known as a Blue Christmas service. In this way, they are able to minister to those in their flocks who are battling the demons of doubt.
It is easy to overlook those who are not as fortunate as the rest of us. We become so wrapped around the wheel of gifts and parties that we forget the doubts and uncertainty that many face.
Think about it my friends. Was not the first Christmas filled with uncertainty? Mary was expecting and there was no room at the inn. Joseph was not sure what to do. Where were his pregnant wife and he to spend the night? Why was all of this happening to him? As you might imagine, he was a man full of doubts.
It is my guess that Joseph was a man who was able to speak persuasively. How else was it that he managed to talk the innkeeper out of some space in the stable? So it was that his doubts as to where his family would spend the night were overcome in Bethlehem that night. Of course we all know that he had a great deal of divine guidance from above. Then again my friends the same help is available to each of us. Nonetheless, doubt has existed through the ages and it persists to this day. I believe that is a natural human response to the pressures and uncertainties of life. Just imagine how tough it must have been for Moses as he led his people through the wilderness. I have to think that there were periods when Moses was consumed by doubt.
There also had to be the usual array of naysayers in the ranks of his followers. People like this have been around for eons. These would be the Biblical equivalent of those people whom you have met in life who exist via the mechanism of 20-20 hindsight. These would be the ones who kept telling everyone that Moses was full of it, and that there was no such place as the Promised Land. Fortunately for us all Moses overcame his doubt and persevered.
I do not know about you, but many have been the times in my life when the outcome of a given endeavor was in doubt. The outcome could have gone either way, and the doubts and pressures assailed my very being.
It has to have been the same for you my friends. We are all members of the human family and travel the face of the same earth. The same can be said about those times when we faced a situation that challenged our abilities and capabilities. If we had kept counsel with our doubts and fears, we never would have achieved what we have in this life.
Perhaps it was Ben Franklin who best stated the matter of certainty in life. He had a real way with words. Writing to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789 he stated his feelings on this topic in a most memorable way.
He wrote the following: "Our new constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." How true indeed his words seem from a perspective of more than 200 years experience.
Unfortunately, doubt is as much a part of life as is breathing, drinking, and eating.
What then might the causes of doubt be? I would suggest that doubt arises from the following:
- Questions about ourselves and our expectations
- Questions about our skills
- Quips and cracks from other people
- Outright, unjustified criticism about what we have done and the manner in which we have done something