Praise and thanksgiving to drive away doubt
My first year as a missionary with NET Ministries (National Evangelization Team) was fourteen years ago in 2008. NET takes about 120 young adults, ages 18-28, trains and forms them for five weeks, places them on teams where they either travel the country putting on retreats for high school and middle school students or stay at one parish or school for nine months and engage deeply with the community.
I was a fresh 18-year-old right out of high school embarking on a journey that I had no idea would open doors and lead me to where I am now. It was a year of formation, transformation, healing, and restoration. I learned that year how to have a personal prayer life, how to openly share my faith and witness to the things Jesus has done in my life, and even how to see the ways that Jesus had worked in my life in my past. It truly was a transformational year.
Fast forward to the present day. I just finished helping train current missionaries with NET for my 10th year in a row. Before the young adults are placed on teams, they go through an intense two-week personal retreat. We start with their personal relationship with Jesus because you cannot give what you don’t have.
One morning in prayer during this training, I was suddenly plagued with so much doubt and confusion over my relationship with Jesus. Do I really trust Jesus with my life? Do I really believe that God is who He says He is? Doesn’t all of this just seem too wild and made up? It felt like I was assailed with doubts that seemed to come out of nowhere. I didn’t panic or stress, I simply just allowed myself to sit in these doubts and carry on. I went to morning Mass, followed by more personal prayer time, still wrestling with these doubts bouncing around in my head.
At our staff meeting after breakfast, we always start with a song of worship and then some time of interceding for the day’s needs. That day, we simply went around and just thanked God for the blessings He has given us. I was reflecting on the fact that the Lord called me to NET Ministries 14 years ago, and here I was, back in this same room, still a disciple of Jesus, still choosing to follow Him, still choosing to live a life with Him, still desiring that closeness.
I became emotional when I offered up these prayers of gratitude. I was so struck by God’s kindness, His mercy, His fidelity in my life all these years, especially when I felt like He was so far away or distant. God had never left me. When I moved into this prayer of praise and thanksgiving, the doubts I was attacked with that morning disappeared and what remained was a deep peace that God knows what He is about.
I think we get so caught up in our needs and the needs of people we care about (which God cares about too!) that we forget that Psalm 100 says to enter into God’s courts with thanksgiving and praise — to start there. When I began to praise and thank God for all the blessings He’s given me, all of the doubts about who He is and what He’s done in my life seemingly faded away. All the lies I was wrestling with that morning vanished, and it was replaced with a deep acceptance of the Kingship of God in my life.
My two-fold prayer for you is that you realize that whatever you are facing right now, God cares about you and wants to remind you of His Lordship over everything. God can be trusted, and He does not make mistakes.
And two, if you are in a season of doubting, turn back to praising and thanking God for what He’s done in your life thus far. Take a look back to see His Providence and His loving care for you. You’ll begin to see a pattern of God moving in your life and you’ll realize that this present darkness is nothing compared to the light of His love.