Doubt. Doubt. Let it all out. These are things I can do without. Part 2.

3A voice rings out, it sings loud, re-route this “doubt”
This King removes the decibels so we can see out
Quiet as a lion, dark as the sun
Small as the ocean, bigger than when time itself begun
Introduction poem 2nd verse, Letters to a Modern-day Job, Kenneth Koh

I was replying to a person the other day, and he asked a beautiful and poignant question… “in your many years of pain, suffering and unfairness, did you ever doubt and get angry with God?” * I loved that question. The answer is undoubtedly (haha, pun totally intended and owned) “yes and amen in Christ”.

And, what I love about Yahweh – He wouldn’t have it any other way. Doubt is necessary for 1) God to be seen as fully God, 2) us to become fully Human, and 3) it frames all sorts of greatness. In darkness and doubt, we see both the greatness of God’s powerful grace as well as the emergence of the greatness of your own story. In that story, your greatness is measured by how you have the ability to be a servant, and the power of your servanthood is powered by Grace’s greatness. Grace is the air you breathe, Jesus is your hero, but you are the hero of your story. And I guarantee that when your hero emerges, it will be in a form you didn’t foresee when you first started. It will be better. You will have access to all the things your heart really needed, but you will be at a point where you might not need them anymore.

God to be seen as fully God

“You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Just as a hero is defined by its villain, the degree and nature of God’s redemption is defined by your darkness. The greater the darkness, the brighter the glory upon being saved. The impossibility of the problem only speaks of the impossibility of God’s grace in action. The bigger the problem, and the more you feel that you don’t deserve rescuing, the greater the love of God is on display when He comes to rescue. In mathematical notation:

Magnitude of God’s love on display = bigness of problem x how much you didn’t deserve it x the less-natural the manner and results in which the problem was solved.

The greater we see the quality of Jesus’ sacrifice as it covers up sin, the greater the reversal of the curse that came because of sin, the greater we admire what Christ did on the cross. We more we see what Christ did on the cross, the greater we realize God loved us, because He gave us the best of heaven.

The greatness of God, and the nature of His love is precisely glorified because of the darkness around. Why am I speechless when I am reminded of His grace? It was because of the the collective limits of medical treatment on my condition. It was because of the ways many doctors were skeptical of other beneficial treatments. It was because people were judging me and stopped supporting me. It was because I lost 10 years flip-flopping in my career and finally exiting the work force. It was because I started from scratch only 8 years ago as a solitary, isolated, wannabe trader with no professional access or help. It was because I lost many relationships. It was because even my closest family started to judge and give up on me. It was because the quicksand I was sinking in was more like viscous concrete than sand, that simply made God shine s a savior.

We become the best version of being fully human

“Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.”
– Frederick Buechner

Doubt then, is a measurement of how mysterious and potentially paradigm-challenging something is. If you aren’t doubtful, that “something” isn’t really a paradigm-challenging problem. Fixable problems aren’t real challenges, mysteries are the real challenges because we have no prior experience or certainty of how to approach and tackle it.  However, when our paradigm and reality is challenged, revealed, found to be lacking, and God comes in to do what we thought couldn’t be done; God gives us greater clarity into the mysteries of life, our minds are stretched, our hearts have greater capacity to overcome pain, forgive the unforgivable and love the unlovable. We see real darkness, real evil but we also see real goodness, real grace. Our world is now truly bigger. This is real growth. But darkness means things are concealed. It will be uncomfortable. It must be uncomfortable. It must lead to stumbling over yourself. In the journey from inside discomfort and concealment that glory lies.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.
– Proverbs 25:2-3, NIV

If we continually only tackle problems that have easy fixes, or fixes that lie within the realm of your prior experience or knowledge, it may get us further along in the necessities of life and career; but it would stunt you as a person. It is within this mystery our growth as people goes on the fast-track. But we don’t relish in the mystery of life alone. It is in this mystery, while sticking our head into the heavens, that we become fully Human -when a human becomes kingly. These are the reasons under-girding part 1 of this post. God created us to have doubt. Doubt is part of the machine that generates the development of all the characteristics of a King and Priest. As a famous saying goes. “Is a man truly truly brave if he didn’t know what fear was?”

We are not called to “say” or “do” the “right” things. We are called to take the challenge of tackling the mysteries of life with God. We are called to search out the nuances of God’s grace, and see the effect of it play out in our lives. Some people, sadly, do the opposite, they use human efforts to produce grace-like symptoms, and then say it’s God’s grace.

The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
GK Chesterton

Reality makes sense

Part of CS Lewis’ journey from Atheist dissonance to Christianity was the thought experiment he conducted regarding darkness and injustices everywhere. His initial argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had he get this idea of just and unjust?

If the universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Just like pain is reminder that you are physically alive, the injustice you feel is a reminder that your spirit is alive and astute. The injustice that burns within you tells you more about you than the world you are trying to make sense of.

It Frames all sorts of Greatness

If you are wondering how to be more Christ-like, it does not come by “willing” it. It does not come by pleasing people in church. It doesn’t come by using Jesus as a model. You cannot learn to be like Jesus, He is perfect, we are imperfect. It is only when we freely accept The Gospel that works inside of us that produces the possibility of being Christ-like. Being Christ-like is the result of focusing on God’s supply. Let’s explore the man that was in an Abyss, was recipient in a time of Grace and is widely regarded to be a type of Christ.

“I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. “For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
– Genesis 45:4-8

This is as close as you are going to get in terms of having the heart of Jesus. No wonder Joseph has been widely regarded as a type of Christ. He was betrayed by his own brothers to a hopeless pit, sold as a slave. His brothers even covered all of it up and fooled his father Jacob that Joseph was dead. How can you forgive anyone like this? These bunch of vipers sold his future from him, out of spite and pride. These bunch of vipers separated him from his father who greatly loved him. Joseph went from a favored, inspired young man to losing more than a decade of life. But look at the quality of Joseph’s forgiveness. Look at the new degree of morality in Joseph? His heart for the peoples of the land totally superseded any personal grudges. His idea of what was important was totally off the self. How God-like. After years of what should have been pent up frustration and confusion in a journey to the Abyss and back, he didn’t have a faux forgiveness. He didn’t ask for therapy to “let out his feelings and grievousness”.  He didn’t just say “oh… i forgive you” and then be passive aggressive like what many post-modernist treat forgiveness today.

No. Joseph operated by a different set of rules. The rules of grace trumps the rule of the fallen world. He proved the extent of forgiveness and maturity by giving his brothers the best of Egypt. He showed his heart by secretly weeping after seeing them for the first time in years, and not having thoughts of revenge. How can you have the heart to give your best to someone that totally tried to destroy all that you hold dear? Imagine your wife leaving you for someone else. Imagine someone trying to murder you. This is worse.  It is the greatness of the betrayal that elevated God’s grace and redemption. it is the greatness of how God’s grace can make a foreign prisoner into the 2nd more influential man in Egypt. It was the greatness of God’s determination that it was an act of betrayal that led to the biggest moral victory. So like Jesus. It was the awareness that God is way greater than the worst the world can throw at him that Joseph can respond in a Christ-like way. Joseph need not fear that his brother might back-stab him again, for God has proven that God can reverse any curse into a blessing.

Back to the starting poem above:

A voice rings out, it sings loud, re-route this “doubt”
This King removes the decibels so we can see out
Quiet as a lion, dark as the sun
Small as the ocean, bigger than when time itself begun
Introduction poem 2nd verse, Letters to a Modern-day Job, Kenneth Koh

Doubt must be accompanied by darkness. But God doesn’t remove doubt. Instead, He re-routes it so that doubt can have it’s final purpose in making you the spiritual king and son that He wants you to be. And when God peels away the noise… the noise of our own flawed intuition… the noise of conventional wisdom… callous voices from naysayers… we can see out. And we will see greatness. A greatness in God, his Grace, and how this will forge greatness in you. It will be “so much more “ (Luke 12:28) than what we “think or imagine” (Eph 3:20) that the “things of this world will become strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” The lion isn’t as loud anymore, the sun isn’t the brightest thing anymore, the ocean is small by comparison; we even start to measure time by a different dimension.

By the way, if you noticed this one, give yourself a big pat on the back. Decibels have db as a symbol. He removes the db in “doubt” to get “out”. Isn’t it just like God to have multiple perfect meanings that actually work in one passage?

If you have doubt today, be assured that God will be doing something with it. It will not be in vain.

Much  love,

Ken

– See the earliest post: Doubt, Doubt, Let it all Out. These are the Things I can do without (Part 1)

 

* I found the need to ask that question striking. I’ve lost everything over a process of a decade, how could I not doubt?  Is it because many of us have been brought up as understanding faith as “saying”, “doing” and “feeling” the “right” way as defined what is popular in some churches? And concordantly, doubt is the opposite of that? In order words, read Job 3-37 and see all the discourse between Job and his friends. I shudder when much of what his friends said would have all easily passed as “faith speech” in churches today. I have been on the receiving end of that. If we didn’t know the beginning and end chapters of Job, we might have easily thought that’s what faith looks like.

 

 


3 thoughts on “Doubt. Doubt. Let it all out. These are things I can do without. Part 2.

  1. “Just as a hero is defined by its villain, the degree and nature of God’s redemption is defined by your darkness. The greater the darkness, the brighter the glory upon being saved.”

    That’s Luke 7:47. “Just as a hero is defined by its villain, the degree and nature of God’s redemption is defined by your darkness. The greater the darkness, the brighter the glory upon being saved.”

    Long read, but your story is powerful. Thanks for this.

    Like

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