by Annie Duarte
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‘Be merciful to those who doubt’ (Jude 22).
Early in 2020, as we were only beginning to learn about the new coronavirus, I stood in the back of the church on a typical, pre-COVID Sunday morning. As worship began, an older woman slipped into the service and took the seat next to me. She commented that she almost hadn’t come that morning because she was becoming wary of the coronavirus that she had read about in the news. My knee-jerk response was to tell her somewhat tersely, ‘Well, we can’t live in fear’.
As we turned our attention to singing the first songs, I could sense that her last reserves of courage that had carried her to church that morning had shrivelled. She had come into the church that morning despite her feelings of fear and doubt. She had told me about those feelings as she was perhaps seeking some encouragement, and I failed to validate her concerns. I failed to build her up. I knew that I needed to apologise to her. I felt so ashamed.
That day I learnt that when we encounter those who doubt, we never want to make them feel guilty or ashamed for their doubts or fears. That only digs the trench of doubt deeper. Instead of condemning someone’s lack of faith, we need to remind them of the promises of God. Instead of telling the woman at my church that she shouldn’t live in fear, I could have reminded her that Jesus has promised to never leave or forsake her.
Truthfully, each of us will struggle with doubting God’s goodness at some point in our faith journey. There will be a day when you will rely on a brother or sister to remind you of God’s promises for your life. I have seen people leave the church because they were made to be ashamed of their questions and doubts. We won’t always get it right, but we continually have an opportunity to encourage, build up, and show mercy to those who trust us enough to share their doubts with us.
Lord God, you are rich in mercy. You made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. Remind us to extend this same mercy and grace to those who doubt. Amen.