As for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. Psalm 73:2 (NIV)
Asaph was the worship leader in the temple during the time of David. People looked up to him. But he saw the prosperity of the wicked, and it raised a great question for his faith (73:3). Why does God allow things to go so well for people who behave so badly (73:12)?
Asaph admits that if he had said what he sometimes thought, he would have betrayed God’s people (73:15). It was only after a long struggle that he came into the sanctuary, and God gave him a glimpse of what happens to the wicked in the end (73:16-17).
John Bunyan was imprisoned from 1661 to 1672 for preaching the gospel in Bedfordshire, England. During his imprisonment, he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, a parable of the Christian life, in which a man named Christian travels on a path to God’s great city with his friends.
On the way, they are confronted by Giant Despair and locked up in Doubting Castle. No doubt Bunyan was reflecting some of his own struggles and questions while in prison—he was separated from his wife and four children, and he could have gone home at any time, if he had simply agreed to stop preaching the gospel.
It is fascinating that Bunyan did not put Doubting Castle at the beginning of Christian’s journey, but well along the way. Bunyan was a mature believer, and he knew what it was to face great questions, and he knew how important it was at times like these to hold tightly to God’s promises.
If Asaph and Bunyan experienced times of doubt, then you should anticipate the same. John Calvin said: “While we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured, we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt… Believers are in perpetual conflict with their unbelief.”
What does the experience of Asaph and Bunyan tell you about your questions?