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Deepak Reju is the editor of a new 31-day devotional series written by different biblical counselors. There are nine volumes so far, and I hope there will be many more. Elyse Fitzpatrick is a certified biblical counselor and has written many books (I reviewed her Counsel from the Cross). What does she have to say about doubt? As a biblical counselor, isn’t she supposed to guide people toward growth in Christ? Wouldn’t that mean she doesn’t struggle with doubt? Not at all.
In her introduction Fitzpatrick states that everyone has doubts, even her (9). One can be a Christian for decades and still wonder sometimes (or often), “Is all this Christianity stuff really—I mean really—true?” (9). If God is real, why hasn’t my life turned out the way I thought it would? Why do I still struggle with sin, and the same sins? Why do I struggle to believe? As she points out, “We all struggle against doubt because ‘we walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Cor. 5:7)” (10). Is it just a leap of faith? Were there enough eyewitnesses when the Jesus events happened?
Alongside that are events that happen to us in our life that lead us to question God’s goodness. Fitzpatrick hardly knew her biological dad, and her step-dad was absent by the time she turned twelve. She writes that she longed for a father, one who would love and care for her. This has made it more difficult for her to trust and believe that God loves her all the time. Fitzpatrick doesn’t write from other people’s experiences, she writes from her own trials and tears.
Fitzpatrick divides her devotional into six sections:
- Doubters in the Bible (Days 1–5)
- Proof for Your Faith (Days 6–10)
- Sinners Who Believe (Days 11–17)
- Confidence of Faith (Days 18–22)
- Enduring Trials and Suffering (Days 23–28)
- Be of Good Courage (Days 29–31)
After talking about key doubters and how God still showed them grace, Fitzpatrick spends some time showing proofs for your faith. These proofs consist of the fact that since there is something here (creation), then there must be a Creator. She spends a few days talking about the reliability of God’s Word, the odds that even a few of the Bible’s prophecies could come true, especially those fulfilled by Jesus, and even just at his death. I didn’t find this section particularly strong, but perhaps this is because my doubts (when they spring up) lie elsewhere. In reality, there just isn’t enough space to cover such massive topics. But Fitzpatrick knows that and so provides some websites in the book’s endnotes.
In describing sinners who believed, she points out how they doubted… and failed… and believed and were still used by God. Peter doubted on quite a few occasions, but Jesus still commissioned him to shepherd his flock (46). Our confident faith lies in the fact that God knows us, loves us, and he has silenced the accuser. We need this confidence when we endure trial and suffering, asking the Lord how long it will last. In our half belief we ought to consider the Lord who took on flesh and suffered so that he could sympathize with us. We ought to be like David and gaze upon the Lord’s beauty, seek him, and wait. But we can be of good courage because not only does the Father love us, but nothing can separate us from his Son. Our Redeemer truly lives, and though we will wrestle with doubts in this life, one day our doubts will be vanquished. We will live by sight, and we will see Jesus Christ face to face.
At the end of each day, Fitzpatrick lists two summarizing truths from that day’s devotion. All of the truths are listed at the back of the book, separated into different categories: truths about the Bible’s claims, about doubt, about faith, about God’s love, about God’s people, about our trials, and about sin and salvation.
The Chocolate Milk
What will be refreshing to many is how Fitzpatrick shows how normal doubt is. Everyone has their doubts. some more, some less. Some often, some not. But they creep in (or bust the door down), and you are not terrible for having them. Questions are not bad. The Bible doesn’t lay everything out in a systematic way for us to have every question answered just by reading the first page (nor the last). Pastors, counselors, teachers, and friends need to be open to receiving and talking with those who have doubts without condemning them for not simply trusting. Hopefully this book will help relieve many doubts and help others understand that Christians can and do doubt. God is patient, and so should we be.
As well, it’s nice to see that the series has included female authors (see my review of Megan Hill’s volume coming up this Monday). Fitzpatrick has written before about the need for solid books written by women for women. There are too many fluffy books out on the market, and I’m happy to see that Fitzpatrick has added a fine book on an important topic.
Don’t read this all at once though thinking it will solve everything. Reading it day by day will help you to soak up her advice. Take her questions seriously. Read the Scripture she advises and think through it. Ask yourself why David is or isn’t doubting and what he does about it. I was a bit disappointed in this volume, especially when compared to Jones’ volume on anger. Jones’ devotional had a lot of content, references, reflections and ways to act. It was a lot fuller, in a way. However, if you struggle with doubts and would like a resource, consider picking up Fitzpatrick’s devotional (you can read the first three days here). She will get your mind thinking about how to trust God’s promises, one day at a time.
- Series: 31-Day Devotionals for Life
- Author: Elyse Fitzpatrick
- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (September 28, 2018)
- Read the first three days
- Other volumes I’ve reviewed
- Anger – Bob Jones
- Contentment – Megan Hill
Buy it from Amazon or P & R Publishing!
Disclosure: I received this book free from P & R Publishing. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.