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April 28, 2020

But why should it be possible to mistrust-
Nor possible only, but its opposite hard?
Why should not man believe because he must–
By sight’s compulsion? Why should he be scarred
With conflict? worn with doubting fine and long?
No man is fit for heaven’s musician throng
Who has not tuned an instrument all shook and jarred.

–from Diary of an Old Soul by George McDonald

Doubt, the Intruder by Alvin Rogness

Sometimes we grow in trust in the very face of doubt. Our trust in God may grow to be so strong and untroubled that we leave doubt behind, but on the way we very likely may have done long battle with doubt. For many of us faith and doubt may continue side by side, and only by the Spirit’s help are we able to rest confidently in the love of God.

Faith in God is not like faith in a new car, for instance. You see the car, you try it out, it works. But God we have never seen or touched or heard. You may have evidence of God’s love in one way or another. But sometimes your prayers seem to reach deaf ears, and things go wrong. Where is God? Does he care? Doubts rear a wall, and mistrust takes over.

Jesus once indicated that God is reached by a narrow passage. We don’t drift on a broad highway into the riches of the kingdom. There are struggles within ourselves and in our world. We may be wounded and scarred. We are caught in eddies of unworthy passions. The future may loom with perils. We lose our bearings and everything looks black. It is when faith finds its way through bewilderment and fear that it grows strong. In Macdonald’s words, it is the only way our instrument can be tuned for heavenly melodies.

“The father of the child cried out,… ‘I believe; help my unbelief'” (Mark 9:24).

Alvin Rogness (1906-1992) was president of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, from 1955-1974.

Photo: Pantheon Rome, Italy by Meredith Kilby 2019