I started a new read-through of the Bible this week and today I’m in Genesis 3. Sometimes I read on a schedule, but this time I’m reading until something stops me, and I didn’t get very far today before I got stopped by Satan’s memorable words, “Did God really say…” That’s where the trouble got started. Questioning God. The Life Application Study Bible notes for this passage suggest that what Satan is prompting Eve to doubt is God’s goodness. A few months ago I preached about God’s goodness. The focus text was from Exodus 33-34 in which Moses makes a bold request of God: “Show me your glory.” (Ex. 33:14) God does what Moses asks, and what I found remarkable is that what God shows when he shows Moses his glory is his goodness. God said, “I will cause my goodness to pass in front of you.” God’s goodness is the essence of his glory. It’s why we say God is good all the time. And so it’s no wonder that God’s goodness would be a great thing for Satan to encourage us to doubt. And how true it is that in the midst of trouble we do indeed doubt God’s goodness. I used to frequently say about whether God would answer my prayers, “I know he can fix this, I just don’t know if he will.”
Doubt happens just as surely as trouble happens. Pretending it doesn’t happen only makes it worse. The problem is not the doubt. The problem is how we respond to it. Doubt is a problem only if we let ourselves hang out in it and don’t ask God to help us resolve it. God can do far more than we can ask or imagine, but I think we don’t always give him the chance. We get comfortable with our doubts. And trusting can mean walking onto some shaky ground, especially when we get outside the safety of empirical data and reason.
We see another problem with our response to doubt in Eve’s response to the serpent. She continued the conversation with the wrong person. She didn’t ask God, she listened only to the serpent. We tend to do the same thing. We talk to the wrong people, and we get all kinds of answers to our questions. Talking about things is good, but somewhere in the process we need to talk to God. We need to pray and ask God to show us the answers we seek. And we need to read what the Bible has to say. Sometimes easier said than done, but God promises us that if we seek with all our hearts we will find him (Jeremiah 29:13).
Life is full of struggles. In the face of great trouble, God’s goodness can seem inadequate. In the midst of controversy and dissention and setbacks, God’s goodness can seem distant. In the realization of our own deficiencies, God’s goodness might seem insufficient.
Paul gives us reassurance: “But my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 4:19)
Did God really say he would? Yes, he did. And to prove he meant it, he sent us Jesus.