Two weeks ago, my wife and I ran a 50-mile trail race in the Rockies. The race started at midnight, and we ran through darkness, mud, streams, mosquitoes, and storms. We climbed and descended mountains and navigated rocky trails, twisting and rolling our ankles countless times.
I was confident when I signed up, but during the race, there were many ups and downs. I wrestled with doubt: Could I really do this? Could I finish? Would I take the wrong path and get lost? Would I get hurt and be unable to continue?
Fifteen hours after we started, we limped across the finish line.
At the finish, other runners milled about dirty, bleeding, limping, and fatigued after hours of wrestling with the same doubt I had experienced. All of us were banged up, but we knew the adventure was worth it. We leaned into our doubts and came away with a unique experience and a deeper understanding of ourselves.
I think our faith is like this. We hear the stories of the victory we have in Jesus and set our sights on the finish line, but sometimes we forget we’re going to get banged up along the way. They’ll be times of joy and peace, but we’ll also wrestle with doubt. We’ll question God and feel it’s wrong or that our faith is weak. But these are actually the times when we are growing closer to him.
The Old Testament tells the story of the nation of Israel. Throughout the story, the people of Israel—God’s chosen people—are in and out of slavery, exile, and the Promised Land. They follow God, they turn away; rinse and repeat. They question, they doubt, they wrestle. It’s in their nature.
It’s in their name.
24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 “What is your name?” the man asked.
He replied, “Jacob.”
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
Jacob walked away from his struggle with God limping, but also with a unique experience and deeper understanding.
I limped across the finish line of my race, but with an incredible experience. And I hope to walk away from this physical life limping because that will mean I truly experienced the adventure Jesus promises us and victory will be that much more satisfying.
Are you facing a season of doubt in your faith? If so, what are you doubting?
Do you feel ashamed of your doubt or that it’s wrong? Why or why not?
Have you ever wrestled with God and walked away limping? Describe that experience.
Make a list of the doubts or questions you have for God. Dig into them: search the Bible app, visit https://bibleproject.com, ask a trusted friend, write about it. Don’t get caught up in seeking an “answer.” Instead, seek a deeper understanding.
Dear Lord, thank you for showing us that you want us to be active in our faith, to question you, and yes, even to doubt you. But, Lord, give me the boldness to trust you, even when my human mind cannot understand you. Help me to trust you more completely in these times and to praise you more knowing your understanding far exceeds mine. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Ryan Leone. Ryan is grateful to help people experience Jesus through the written word. He and his wife Mia are Ohio natives who now live in Boulder, Colorado with their dog Bella. Ryan spends most of his time running trails through the Rocky Mountains, exploring God’s beautiful creation.
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