Joyce Meyer - Dealing with Doubt - Part 1
I want to talk tonight about "Dealing With Doubt". Because if we're going to trust God, then we have to do something all the doubts that come against us. How many of you experience doubt from time to time or a million times every day in your life? Okay. Well, doubt is a very close relative of fear, it actually is a type of fear. And so, if we're going to live without fear, then we've got to learn to live without doubt. But when I say live without doubt, I want to be very clear upfront that I'm not telling you that you're never going to have a doubt come to you. I'm not telling you that the devil's not going to lie to you because he will and probably almost every day. But what I am going to tell you is that there's a deeper way to live than just off the top of our heads. We absolutely, more than anything, we need to stop living by these random thoughts that rush through our mind and how we feel. Amen?
So, doubt is going to come. But we can live deeper. Think with me for a minute about an ocean. I don't know if you've ever been on the ocean, but if you haven't, I'm sure you've seen it or you've seen pictures of it. And the top of the ocean, the surface of the ocean can just be wavy, and tumultuous, and roaring, and it just looks like everything is just all stirred up. But if you go down deep enough, it's just as still as it can be down there. And I think that's the way God wants us to learn how to live. I think we have to learn to live a little bit deeper. And I'm not going to stand here and tell you that you're not going to have times when you're going to have to deal with doubt because you are.
None of us are ever going to be at a point where we just have this perfect faith, and we just never ever doubt. Because we can have all kinds of faith in God, and then we see a circumstance that seems to be against what we're believing, and the first thing we're tempted to do is doubt. So, when you find yourself in a battle with doubt, I want to encourage you to turn your brain off for just a minute and just go a little bit deeper and see what's in your heart, amen? I'll give you an example. You know, I think anybody that's going to teach the word, you have to settle it for yourself that whatever message you show up with at the pulpit, if you've done your due diligence to hear from God and to study, then it's the right message for the people at the time.
But don't think for one minute that Bible teachers and preachers don't stand up here and from time to time doubt that they've got the right thing. Because if I start looking at how everybody's responding or not responding, the enemy will make sure that I see the two on the front row that are asleep, and the two behind them that keep looking at their watch every two seconds, and the five that are playing with their phones, and the others that are getting up and running in and out of the room. And you have to make your mind up that you're not going to believe anything except what's in your heart, amen?
And so, this has been years and years ago. We decided one time we were going to do a conference in St. Louis over the 4th of July weekend, not knowing exactly for sure if that was the best plan or not, but feeling like, you know, it would be a good weekend. I mean, it wasn't going to take up the whole weekend, but it was July 4 weekend. And so, I had the message that I really felt like God wanted me to teach and the crowd was okay, but it wasn't really great, so you know, the whole time I'm thinking, "I probably shouldn't have done this, probably shouldn't have done this, probably shouldn't have done this". And then, you know, when you're already, like, thinking something like that and you're already seeing something that's kind of discouraging to you, then it's very easy for the enemy to take it to the next realm.
So, I started wondering if I should've done the meeting, then I started wondering if I had the right message. And so, bottom line is, is by the time it was over, I couldn't wait for it to be done, and I can tell you when I'm preaching and I'm watching my watch wanting it to get done, I know I got a problem. Amen? And so, I just was so glad when that thing was over, and I was just so absolutely miserable, and I was just, "Oh God, I shouldn't have done that". And the Lord spoke something to me that has helped me ever since. He just put in my heart, "Turn that brain off for just a minute and tell me what's really in your heart. Do you really believe that it was the wrong message? Do you really believe that you weren't supposed to do it"? And when I really looked at what was in my heart, I thought, "No, I believe it was what you wanted me to preach. Yep, I believe it was the right thing".
And that's what I want to encourage you to start doing in your life. You can't do anything about doubts coming to you, but you can learn to doubt your doubts, amen? Because the devil is a liar. And so, if what he's telling you opposes what God has told you, then guess who's telling you the wrong thing? It's the enemy. You don't have to believe every thought that comes into your mind and every feeling that you have. Just calm down, amen? Breathe, calm down, and just say, "Now, what's in my heart"? I think a lot of times, even when it comes to trusting God, we may feel upset and anxious and worry is attacking our mind, but if you really ask yourself, "Okay, now what do I really believe? Do I really believe that God is going to leave me stranded in this situation and that he's not going to come through for me? What do I really believe"? And the bottom line is if you've had any experience with God at all, you'll have to say, "He'll come through. God will come through".
So, in teaching you how to deal with doubt, I want to just make sure that it's clear up front that I'm not telling you that you're never going to have doubts. Matter of fact, I think it's better to just be honest with God about them. I like the guy whose son was demon-possessed, and he went to Jesus and Jesus said, "All things are possible if you believe". And he said, "Well, I believe, Lord, but help my unbelief". You know, he still got his miracle. I think sometimes we get less from God when we try to pretend the phony faith that we don't have instead of just being honest with God. Because you know what I found out about Jesus? He loves us enough that he will meet us where we're at. He doesn't make us come to him, he will meet us where we're at.
Think about Thomas. "Well, I'm just not going to believe. If I don't see the scars in your hands, in your side, I just cannot believe". And what did Jesus do? He showed them to him. He came and he met Thomas where he was at, and he said, "Now, more blessed are those who believe and have not seen, but you needed to see, so I've shown you". And you know what? Thomas went on to become a great evangelist in the nation of India. So, just because you don't have 100% perfect faith, that doesn't mean that God won't use you, and it doesn't mean that he won't meet you where you're at. Because I'll tell you what happens, the more experience that we have with God, the stronger our faith gets. It's much harder for a baby believer to get through real difficult times than it is for somebody who has had a lot of experience with God. Because you've seen God work time and time and time and time again, and that's why even like the Psalmist David, when he was going through rough times, he would purposely remember the other things that God had done that brought him through. So, I want to make sure you're with me.
Do you understand what I mean when I'm saying that we can live on the surface where all this stuff is going on, or we can go deeper and we can say, "Now, what is really in my heart"? 'Cause I'll tell you the truth, all this word stuff that you get, you may not remember it in your brain, but it's doing you a lot more good than what you think it is. And it's in there, and it's food for your spirit, and it's keeping you stronger than you think that you are. But if we're going to continue to just believe what our brain says and what we feel like all the time and all the lies of Satan, then we're just going to give up and quit. I had a rough situation, something going on the last couple of weeks, and here I'm getting ready to come and teach on trusting God, and I felt like I didn't have a thimble full of faith. I kind of felt like, "Well, it's going to be really good for me to get up and try to tell everybody else to trust God all the time when I feel like I'm going to fall apart over this simple thing that I'm going through".
And you know, God revealed to me later that he let me go through that on purpose because he didn't want me to get up here and just act like, "Well, it's just simple to have faith and just trust God, and no matter what just believe God". I want you to know that I know what it's like. I know what you're going through if you've got serious problems in your life. And we're telling you in church all the time, "Well, trust God". It's much easier for us to stand up here and tell you to do it than it is for you to do it when your faith is being tested. But our faith will always be tested from time to time. How many of you have found that out? Your faith is always going to be tested from time to time. So, don't think you're some kind of an inferior, second class believer. Come on, which we do sometimes, don't we? We start thinking, "Well, what is my problem? I should be further along than this".
Well, I can tell you, if you would've asked me how I felt 3 days ago, I would've told you, "Well, I certainly should be further along than this". But to be honest, sometimes going through a little something like that is actually good for us because it helps us have empathy for other people when they're going through things. We need to be more careful about giving people these little flippant answers. Not everybody needs you to quote them a scripture, sometimes they need a hug. And if you think you got it bad sometimes, you should see how I feel when somebody quotes one of my messages back to me. "Well, now wait a minute, I think I heard", and Dave will say that sometimes, "I think I heard this lady preacher say blah, blah, blah". And I'm like, "Don't start. I'm having a flesh day, you might as well just let me have it".
Okay, now I think that sometimes we do doubt God, but I think more than we doubt God, we doubt ourselves. So, we're going to talk a lot tonight about self-doubt. And what I mean by that is we don't doubt that God can do it, but will he do it for me? I don't doubt that he might do it for you, but will he do it for me? And so, in James chapter 1, the Bible teaches us beginning in verse 5, he's already been talking about trials and tribulations and the problems that we have, but then he basically says that when you're having problems of any kind, even if you don't deserve it, you can go to God, and you can ask him boldly to help you, and he will help you. And I love this in the Amplified Bible, "Without reproach or fault-finding". In other words, he doesn't say, "Oh, I'm not going to help you, you've been this, that, or something else. Well, I'll help you, but let me remind you of what you've done". That's what reproach is, and God's not like that.
You know, sometimes we're like that as parents. Kids will get in trouble, and they come and they need mom to help or dad, "Well, all right, but I just don't want you to forget. Just make sure that you know how wonderful I'm being in helping you because you really don't deserve my help". But aren't we glad that our Heavenly Father's not like that? He helps us without reproach and without faulting. Now, that doesn't mean he doesn't correct us. That doesn't mean that he doesn't deal with our silliness and our foolishness. But any time that you're in trouble, God is going to help you. So, even when you have not been good and you don't deserve his help, you still need to go boldly to the throne and ask God to get involved in your situation and help you.
And boy, if you've been holding back, not asking God for the help you need because you're looking at yourself instead of him, that's a big turnaround that you could make right now tonight 'cause God does not help us because we deserve it. He helps us because we're pathetic and pitiful. And if he doesn't, I don't know what we're going to do, amen? All right, now let's just look at a couple of situations in the Bible. These are scriptures that you're probably familiar with, I hope you know your Bible enough that you are familiar with them, but if not, Romans 4:18-21, "Abraham, human reason for hope being gone, hoped on in faith". And you know what hope is, hope is not like some namby pamby, "Well, I hope something good happens". No, hope is an expectation that something good is going to happen at any moment in your life. And God is inviting you tonight to live with that kind of expectation in your life. "Something good is going to happen to me. Something good is going to happen through me, and it may happen at any moment".
When we have that kind of hope, it allows us to live with some enthusiasm and some excitement. So, "All reason for hope being gone, Abraham still hoped on in faith that he would become the father of many nations, as it had been promised to him". Because he had been told, "Your descendants will be so many that you will not be able to count them". Number one problem, he didn't have a child. He did not have an heir. "He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body". Abraham was about 100 years old, and that means that he was not physically able to have a child. Let me start over. "He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah's [deadened] womb".
Now, you know, we're taught sometimes, "Well, just don't pay attention to your circumstances". I'm going to tell you the truth, there's very few people that have got that mastered. You know, if you got a circumstance staring you in the face, it's kind of hard to not pay any attention to it. And I like what Abraham did, he took a good look, and he believed that God was greater. Come on, I think sometimes we just need to look at the circumstance, call it what it is, and say, "I don't care what you look like, I don't care how upset you've got my emotions. There's something deeper going on in me, and I believe God is going to come through for me". You know, when we're in meetings like this, and man, the music's been great and you know, the house is full, and you know, I'm preaching, it's so easy in those times to say, "Yes, yes"! But I want to tell you something, you got to go home. We don't live in church, we live in real life, and that's where we've got to put it to work.
And I think instead of trying to ignore all the circumstances, maybe we need to do what Abraham did and just take a good look, and say, "I'm not, I'm not disappointed by you because God is greater". "No unbelief or distrust made him waiver (or doubtingly question) concerning the promises of God". So, he felt doubt, he saw the circumstances, there were questions there. But above all that, he chose to believe God. And I don't know what you might be going through right now, but I'm going to ask you to choose to believe God. Because I've considered this thing about trust a lot, and I'll say this again tomorrow, I've decided I'm going to trust because, frankly, I only have one other option, and that's to be miserable. And I've already spent enough years of my life doing that, and I'm not doing that anymore. I'm going to finish happy, amen?
And a lot of what's going on in your life, you are not going to figure it out. You're not. You can get in a room and scream, "Why God, why?" 'till you lose your voice. Yeah, he might tell you something, I don't know, but chances are, he won't. Because even if he did, we probably wouldn't understand what he was saying. So, sometimes we just got to kind of man up and say, "All right, God, I don't understand it, but I trust. I'm going to trust you anyway. In spite of all of it, I'm going to trust you anyway because my only other option is insanity". You get two options: trust God, be miserable. There's nothing in between. Are you with me tonight?
Now, you could walk out of here and continue to be miserable, or you can take what I'm saying to heart and you can say, "You know what? I am just going to take that step. As crazy as it may sound, when I look at my circumstances, it makes no sense at all, but I am just going to trust God and just see what he'll do". Now, let me just throw this out for good measure. When you're having a war with doubt, do warfare with the devil with the words of your mouth. You got all this scripture in you, start saying something. Don't just listen to everything he's saying, start saying something back.
I read a great statement in a little book that I'm reading by a man that's lived back in the late 1800s, and I love this. Simple statement, but I love it. He said, "We must feed our faith with the promises of God". And I love that. Just like we feed our bodies with food if we want to stay strong, we must feed our faith with the promises of God. And that's why, when you come to church and you come to a meeting like this, or you watch a tv program, or read a book or whatever, everything that you get ahold of doesn't have to be something brand new that you're just like, "Oh, wow, I didn't know that". We better thank God that he just keeps reminding us over, and over, and over, and over of the same stuff because we lose it. And we need to be reminded. "No unbelief or distrust made him waiver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and he was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God".
There's an order concerning the way things have to work in the Kingdom of God, and it's fact, always fact is first, the fact of God's word, the truth of God's word. Then comes feeling, I mean, then comes faith. We put our faith in the fact of God's word. And then way down here somewhere is feeling. Hopefully, our feelings will catch up with what we believe, but if they never do, we still got to believe God first, amen? Are any of you tired of living by the way you feel? Come on, are you tired of it yet? Then stop bowing down to how you feel. I used to wake up in the mornings, think, "Well, I feel depressed. Yep, I feel depressed". So, I would just be depressed all day. Now, if I even start to think, "Well, this is going to be a bad day". I talk back to the devil. "Shut up, you're not taking another day from me. This is going to be a good day. Something good is going to happen to me today. Something good is going to happen through me today". Do warfare with the words of your mouth.