The tension between faith and doubt, confidence and uncertainty, spiritual strength and weakness is something that we learn to live with in our walk of discipleship with Jesus.  Only when faith becomes sight will there no longer be any room for doubt.  Until then, we continue to work through periodic assaults which have the potential to undermine our faith.  Some of these simply result from life on planet Earth with its suffering, pain, hardship, and inequities.  Others are brought on by direct, intentional attempts by Satan to shake our trust in the Father.  He prowls and seeks to devour; he secures radar lock on our hearts and launches his missiles; he schemes and plots against us.   

Jesus encountered a distraught, heartbroken father who was desperate to find a solution to the torment and harm brought upon his young son by one of Satan’s minions.  In his emotional exhaustion, he spoke to Jesus in terms of “ifs” and “possibilities.”  The Savior challenged the man to steer through his doubts to more a confident faith in the power of the Son of God.  He replied, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  The man humbly acknowledged the coexistence of faith and doubt in his heart and his longing for deeper trust.  His admission did not bring condemnation from Jesus, but a response of healing for the man’s son.  Jesus understands the spiritual tension within us and offers us strength to endure and overcome it.        

Though we may stagger, we do not have to fall.  “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Psalms 37:23-24).  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, …” (Ephesians 6:13-14a).

Kerry Ellis’ new album introduced me to another song by the team of Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson, this one from their musical Kristina which revolves around the story of Swedes who emigrate to the U.S. in the mid-1800s.  The song “You Have to Be There” powerfully captures the struggle between the doubts created by “life” and an underlying faith in God that ultimately cannot be destroyed.  You can click the title below to listen to the song.

You Have to Be There

You have banished me
From the land where I was born
Here upon a foreign shore forsaken
I have followed you and done thy will

Should I kneel to you?
When I rise you strike me down
Once again a little one you’ve taken

Everywhere I turn it’s darker still

What is it, Lord, that you want, that I am not seeing
What, in my innocent prayers, am I failing to say
Never before have I questioned the truth of your being
Never once have I dared
Never until today

All of a tremble I stand on the edge of confusion
Who is to save me if into the darkness I fall
Now that I need more than ever, my God to be near me
Do you hear when I call, are you there, after all

You have to be there, you have to
My life I have placed in thy keep
And without you I am drifting

On a dark and rising sea

You have to be there, you have to
Without you I’d drown in the deep 

Too far, too far from land
 
The waters drag me down
I reach for your hand

Who, when I die, will throw open his arms to receive me
Who will believe me and take me into his embrace
When I have gone to my rest will you watch me and wake me
When my time comes at last, will you grant me your grace 

I am so small on this earth, I am nothing without you
Daring to doubt you at all is a knife to my heart
Little by little I’m losing my way in the shadows

I am losing my hold, and the world falls apart

You have to be there, you have to
My life I have placed in thy keep
And without you I am drifting

On a dark and rising sea

You have to be there, you have to
Without you I’d drown in the deep 

Too far, too far from land
 
The waters drag me down
I reach for your hand

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