The Demon of Doubt
Doubt is the near opposite of faith because it undermines what we believe to be true without even seeing physical evidence. For example, I have never seen Jesus, but I know He exists and died to take my sins away. Jesus told Peter in Matthew 14:31b, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt.” This was right after Peter had actually walked on water. But where did his faith start to fail? It was when he “saw the wind” (Matt. 14:30), and doubt crept in because he took his eyes off Jesus. So if you start looking at your problems and they become bigger than Jesus or they take your eyes off Jesus at all, it could be a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith.
I battled a strong addiction to marijuana for many years, and it made me doubt my salvation many times, but God was patient with me. Over time, He helped change my heart’s desire to overcome this. For others, it is alcohol. They just can’t quit drinking, and time after time they fall back into it. They are not overcoming alcohol; it is overcoming them. We need help. Sometimes we just need to swallow our pride, acknowledge our substance abuse problem, and reach out and seek help. When we struggle with substance abuse, it can create a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith because we feel unworthy and unlikely to actually be saved.
I just counseled a man the other day who said that he is so shy, he can’t be around many people. He feels unwelcome by others in the church, even though they are trying to show themselves friendly. He said, “It’s a pretty lonely path to walk.” He admits that it’s his perception and not reality, but for him, perception is reality. I told him about the giant sequoias that grow in California. The interesting fact is that these huge trees can grow to well over 300 feet, and many have lived for over 2000 years, but they have extremely shallow roots. In fact, if they stood alone, they’d collapse in a strong wind. But the fact is that the sequoias’ shallow roots intertwine with one another, and so do their branches. This is exactly how the church is designed because without the help of others to keep our roots firmly planted and with no support from others, the individual Christian would soon fall. Like sequoias, we grow tall when we stand together and support each other, but alone, we fall so easily. Therefore, isolation can be a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith.
Illness and Disease
I don’t know how many people in the last few years I’ve personally known who have been diagnosed with cancer; some have even died of it. Many people begin to question the goodness of God, and that is completely understandable. I can’t imagine how hard this must be. You’ve been hit by a fatal disease, battle chronic illness, or have been diagnosed with cancer, which can undermine our faith and create a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith. These are the times when believers can put things into an eternal perspective. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could die but then be present with the Lord. I certainly have no answer as to the “why,” but I do know the Who, and He is sovereign over all things.
I hope that we don’t become a stumbling block for others by doing something that others consider sin but we think is not. Paul warned us to “take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9). People have enough trouble with their own stumbling blocks to a stronger faith without needing any help from us.