Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, January 21 - Doubts and Belief

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” — Psalm 103:2

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Some time ago, I was watching an incredibly revealing interview with tennis great Rafael Nadal. He had invited a reporter and good friend to his hometown of Mallorca, Spain, to share a rare glimpse of his personal life. During the interview, the reporter asked him if he could pinpoint the secret to his success for all these years. At first, he chuckled and said he didn’t know. But then he added a truly remarkable insight into his own perspective on such a remarkable career: “Maybe it is because I have doubts,” he said.

The interviewer was surprised and said, “Most people think doubts are bad and inhibit confidence. Why do you think having doubts has helped you?” Nadal went on, saying, “If you have doubts, it shows you are human and you will be humble. But if you don’t have doubts, it means you are arrogant.”

His comment brings up an interesting point when it comes to having confidence, both as competitors and as believers in Christ: Having confidence is important! You must believe you have the skills and the training and the knowledge to succeed at your sport and in life. But that confidence must be tempered with humility and the understanding that you are never as good as you think you are — that there is always room for improvement and growth; that for all the strengths you may have, you possess just as many weaknesses.

The minute we begin to assume we’ve got it all together and we really are somebody, it’s in that moment that we have forgotten our own human-ness. The Bible offers many cautions against thinking too highly of ourselves and assuming we are better than we actually are. For example, Deuteronomy 8 records a warning from God to the Israelites as they are on the brink of stepping into the Promised Land. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness upon leaving Egypt, God wants them to remember where they’ve come from — that it is HIS hand that has cared for them, protected them, taught them and, now, brought them to this point in their lives.

But He also cautions them not to forget all this once they settle in the new land, and His warning is just as true for us today. After listing all the good things He has done for His people, God says, “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands. … Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large, … then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).

Prosperity can feel amazing, but it can also be damaging. It’s easy to forget your need for God when life is going well and you place too much confidence in your own abilities. So maybe Nadal has a point: Learning to doubt while still believing really is the secret to success.

— Katherine Singer

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