When Experience Doesn't Line Up with the Word...
When Experience Doesn't Line Up with the Word, How Do We Overcome the Doubt That Creeps In?
You’re probably familiar with the Bible verse, Matthew 21:22 (NKJV) "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
I’ve prayed and believed many things that haven’t come to pass. There are some in the faith crew that might say I didn’t really believe but you know what? I did! Somehow my believing wasn’t enough to change the situation. I won’t dismiss the truth of scripture but can’t seem to dismiss the effect of my experience either. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Have you ever found yourself walking around asking, “How could that happen?” or “What in the world is going on?” One day, I was venting to my sweet husband about unanswered prayers that I and others I care about had experienced. I was venting and at the same time reciting... actually more like unleashing the verse, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” John 16:23 (NKJV) The more I spoke it, the more animated I became. I began, with what I will call an elevated tone, to cry out, “Where is the whatever!? Where?” Where is the Deliverer? Where? Every few words I stopped to clarify that I know God’s word is true and that He is the Deliverer. Then I went right back to question why this wasn’t what we were experiencing in certain areas. My husband who patiently watched and wisely backtracked a few steps, let me spin. After a bit, he reminded me that twice God had protected one of my son’s lives from car accidents in which he could’ve died. That shut down my pity party fast! Can you say perspective change? I calmed my emotions and as peacefully as possible asked, “So where are our whatevers?” Once I settled down, I began to look at some other whatevers in my life where I knew God had intervened. I also turned to the Word of God for some other whatevers. “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19 (NKJV) “So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” John 5:19 (ESV) “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." John 11:22 (ESV) These are great verses for the battle we’re in. You can hold on to these and believe for the win. The problem we have is when it’s over and done and the thing you were fighting against appears to have won. That appearance impacts us, but it is not the truth. Experience cannot dictate truth, but it will try. Experience can’t answer our questions, or it may give the wrong answers. Experience will lead our emotions all over the place if we let it. The enemy of our soul uses our experience against us and goes right back to the garden of Genesis 3. He questions us, “Has the Lord said…?” Then he goes back to the wilderness of Matthew 4 with “if You are the son of God” and questions if the Lord has said we are something or if we have faith then pressures us to do something to prove it. In short order, we start looking for proof. If we don’t see it where and when we expect it, if our whatevers aren’t met, we start asking the same questions as the enemy. “Has the Lord said...?” He simply suggests doubt and if we aren’t careful we get hooked and allow doubt to cloud our vision. The only way we Out the Doubt is to know the battle is already won. Jesus Christ secured our victory when He died on the cross, went to the grave, and rose again. When we receive Him as Lord, we live life from that win. We live life in relationship with the One Who is the Truth. Tell doubt to bow to Him. Are you hurting from unanswered prayers or trauma? He is here to comfort and carry you through. Experience will keep you looking back at apparent defeat, but Truth will lead you on in victory. He won, is winning, and will keep winning! Look to Him! An old hymn may say it best. “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; be all else but naught to me, save Thou art; be Thou my best thought in the day and the night, both waking and sleeping, Thy presence my light…”