Faith and Doubt
In the midst of a strong wind while they were in a boat tossed about by the waves, the disciples were terrified when they saw someone walking on the sea; thinking that it was a ghost, they cried out in fear. Therefore, Jesus called out at once: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Having heard the voice of Jesus, Peter called to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But once again, Peter became frightened when he saw how strong the wind and the waves were, so he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” Jesus caught Peter and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (cf. Matthew 14:27-31)
There are many different kinds of doubt and doubt can arise from many different situations. In the Bible, we see other examples of doubt which we can probably relate to:
- In the garden of Eden, the snake tempted the woman to doubt God by saying, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1) There are times when we hear someone talking, and what they are saying influence us to doubt what we believe.
- The prophet Habakkuk also had doubt as he complained to God, “How long, O LORD, must I cry for help and you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ and you do not intervene?” (Habakkuk 1:2) There are times when we are like Habakkuk; we pray for someone or something but nothing happens. So, we begin to doubt and complain to God.
- Zechariah doubted the angel who brought him good news that he and his wife were to have a son despite their being advanced in years. (Luke 1:5-20) Zechariah doubted the good news that the angel brought to him. In the same way, we sometimes hear good news, but we doubt it because we do not think it is possible, or because we do not think we are worthy.
- And the most famous example of all – Thomas who said to the other disciples, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
What are we to do when we begin to doubt God?
- First, we mustn’t allow ourselves to obsess about it. To determine the source and to find a solution to overcome doubt is commendable, but spending far too much time and energy over it can lead to confusion and despair. Obsessing about something is like digging a deeper and deeper hole that we can fall into and which is very difficult to climb out of.
- Sometimes, doubt comes when we feel bored or stuck and don’t feel like we are making progress; what we need is a fresh outlook or a new inspiration to seek God in our lives. If our prayer life has run dry, then it is time to try out other ways to connect with God. For example:
- Do not just read the Bible; study it! Studying the bible means not only knowing the Bible stories, but to understand its context, its purpose, its teaching and how it fits in God’s plan of salvation. In this way, we can draw the correct applications from the word of God to our lives.
- Learn about the history of the Church. As the saying goes, “we learn from history!” There are so many things that we can learn from the history of the Church; it helps us to understand more fully how our faith developed, where we are now and what lies for us in the future.
- Listen to sacred music and watch religious movies. We can make use of our other senses in prayer, especially our sense of hearing. Music can help calm and soothe us; movies can help inspire us and connect us to God in a different way.
- Attend daily Mass and go to confession regularly. The Eucharist and Reconciliation are two Sacraments that we can all avail of on a regular basis. They bring so much grace into our souls.
- Turn off electronics and practice reading and meditating in silence. Choose your favorite Bible passage or verse and use it for meditation. Some suggestions are Psalm 139 and 1Kings 19:11-13a.
- Get involved in a worthy cause which can broaden your experience and understanding of faith. A great way to put our faith into action is by getting involved in a worthy cause. Meeting and interacting with real people make our prayer life complete.
Wouldn’t it be nice if each time we call out to God for help, Jesus would reach out and pull us out of our problems? But if that were the case, how are we to learn from our problems? How are we to grow in the virtues, especially the virtues of patience, fortitude, prudence and wisdom? However long it takes for our deliverance, we must learn to persevere. Meanwhile, we can take consolation in the example of Peter that Jesus Christ will never abandon those who seek Him with a humble and sincere heart!
Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be on Tuesday, August 15 at 12pm. Mass will be in Chinese. Come join us at 11:30am to pray the rosary!
We have 2 new books from the Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. These books are translations of the works of St. Marie Guyart from French to Chinese. You can check out the books from our library.
The small group reflection for August 13 is now available. You can pick up a copy in the church foyer or find it in our church website: hnojatl.org or in the Tabella app.
Next Sunday (August 20) is potluck Sunday! This is a great activity for everyone to foster fellowship in our church community. If you are celebrating your birthday in the month of August, we have ordered a birthday cake for you. Lunch begins after the 10:30am Mass. Please bring your favorite dishes to share.
Attention parents and children: Registration for Sunday School has begun! Classes will resume on August 27, 2023. The schedule of classes is now available. Please pick up a copy in the church foyer, or view it our church website.
Join us for “Family & Friends Day” on September 2. We will begin with Holy Mass at 9:00 AM, followed by fun and educational activities after Mass, and lunch at noon. Lunch is free.
Our church GARAGE SALE will be on Saturday, October 7 from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Please check if you have clothes, household and gift items in good condition to donate. You may bring your donated items to the church beginning in September. Please do not bring large or broken furniture, glass or mirrors, obsolete electronics and office equipment to the church. Thank you for your support!
Prayer List: Alexis Lam, Stephen Lam, Liang Chenjing, Pan Bohao, Long Guorui, Rosa Wang and Xu Taicheng.