It was October 2017, and the Houston Astros were in Boston playing the Red Sox for a chance to advance to the American League Championship Series. They were down 3-2, and the Red Sox had brought in Chris Sale, a feared veteran pitcher who may one day enter the Hall of Fame, to secure the win.
Alex Bregman, a rookie third baseman, stepped to the plate against Sale, and grinned at him. I thought for sure he would get a fastball in the ribs. But he hit a game-tying home run, and the Astros won the game in the end, advancing to the ALCS for the first time (and ultimately winning their first ever World Series title; I was beside myself with joy--but I digress...).
Bregman's confidence surely made a difference in that pivotal, pressure-filled at-bat.
Trust me entirely
That’s when doubt comes in: when we fail to trust God entirely. Pulled away from pure devotion, looking at the stuff around us, we forget that our help comes from Him. So we look to ourselves and our own resources, and we find them lacking, every time. In that lack we become overwhelmed, and we begin to doubt.
Faith through the storm
Peter made the right decision, though. He didn't try to run back to the boat; he didn't try to remember those breaststroke lessons from the third grade; he cried out to Jesus. And Jesus pulled him up immediately. That's the key to dealing with doubt: not turning to self-effort and abandoning faith, but turning our eyes back to Jesus.
We don't know how far Peter had walked from the boat--was it only a few steps? ten yards?--but he walked back with Jesus, hand-in-hand, through the raging wind and waves. Only when they got into the boat did the storm subside.
The difference between doubting in a storm and having faith through a storm lies in who I'm looking at and where my confidence lies.
I am persuaded
Imagine having watched Jesus walk on the surface of a wind-tossed lake, then step into the boat--and the wind and waves stop the instant his sandal touches the boat's floor. What a moment! Peter and the rest of the disciples responded appropriately: they worshiped Jesus, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." What a recovery: Peter went from drowning in doubt, afraid for his life, to being fully convinced that Jesus is the Son of God.
This conviction appears in Paul's writings, too: I am persuaded... I am convinced...
In Romans 8, Paul is speaking of experiences like "trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword", when he says,
I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We can follow Paul's example. In the middle of any adversity, we can say, "I am convinced". Not in our own ability, but in God's goodness and God's faithfulness.
You're going to outlive it
When we make these faith statements that are in line with God's word, we set our minds and hearts on "things above"—on God, on an eternal perspective.
If you are a believer, that eternal perspective is the only appropriate perspective for you: because you are an eternal being! Your life is already "hidden in Christ with God" (Colossians 3:3). As someone who will live forever with Christ in his kingdom, you will outlive every problem you're facing now.
Every storm. Every adversity. Every struggle.
You'll outlive it.
When we find our hearts wandering away from God because of doubt, it's time for a reset: we cry out to him if we're sinking like Peter, and we fix our minds and hearts back on him, making those "I am persuaded" statements of what we know to be true of him and his faithful character.
He'll carry us through. I'm convinced.