Have you ever sat back and wondered if you heard wrong about being a writer? If God really did give you the task to write, then why is it all so…difficult? Frustrating? Disappointing? And why isn’t He confirming that He gave you this task?
Most of us are doing this task of writing because we believe God has given it to us. So why do so many writers struggle with doubt? Why do we wonder if we really did hear God correctly? Or struggle to know what He’s leading us to do right now?
The good news is that you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon for writers to wonder if maybe they heard God wrong. Or to want, down the road, some sense of confirmation that God really said what they thought He did.
There are many reasons people take on the task of writing, and not all Christians who write do so because they believe God has called them to it. It’s fine if you’re writing because you love it, and you’ve decided to serve God by doing so. It’s okay if you serve God in other ways and write just because you enjoy it.
For many of us, though, we write because we believe God asked us to do so, that this is how He wants us to honor and serve Him. We believe He’s given us the task to write for Him. That gives us our purpose and determination. It keeps us going when things get hard or even ugly.
And yet we still doubt we heard God correctly!
Why We Doubt
Our passion ebbs
- When things don’t happen the way we expect
- When someone criticizes us
- When we don’t take time to maintain our relationship with God
- When we get too preoccupied with DOING and forget to simply listen
- When we ask but don’t wait for God’s answer
We hear God’s directions once but we want more continual confirmation
- We doubt when we’ve been at our task for weeks, months, or years and haven’t heard anything more from God
- Consider Joseph’s situation in Matthew 2:13. “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’” All that time in Egypt couldn’t have been easy—starting over in a foreign land. Did Joseph doubt? Did he feel forgotten? Did he wonder if he heard right? We don’t know. But we do know that they stayed in Egypt until he got new directions to return.
We don’t ask the right questions, so we don’t get answers, and it makes us doubt
- Think about Job and his friends. They’re trying to figure out what’s going on, what Job did wrong to deserve such horrible things. Then God speaks up and basically tells Job he’s asking the wrong question. It’s not about why, it’s about understanding who God is and what it means to follow His leading.
- Notice in the Gospels how often Jesus is asked a question and he doesn’t answer it, or he answers a different question that they should have asked. We get so focused on our situation, our goals, and our plans that we forget this writing journey is part of our discipleship, part of our walk with God. He’s concerned about our character and about us valuing Him.
The Hard News
This issue really isn’t about hearing God at all. It’s about knowing Him. As well as—or even better than—you know your closest friends and family. Think about it, when your best friend calls you on the phone, do you recognize his or her voice? Of course, because you know that person so well. You know the inflections in his words, the sound of her laughter and weeping. You know her as well as you know yourself. That’s how well you need to know God.
You have within you the very spirit of the living, Almighty God. If you don’t know Him, or His spirit, as well as you do your friends and family, you need to focus on getting to the point where you, the sheep, are so well acquainted with the Shepherd’s voice that your response to it is immediate. That the sense you have when He speaks is one of trust and obedience. And you don’t doubt that you heard it, because you know it too well to do so.
The way to hear God, to know it’s His voice speaking to you, is simply to take the time to build relationship with Him.
Doubt isn’t an issue of not hearing, it’s an issue of not knowing and, as a result, not trusting.
If you don’t really KNOW Him, then of course you’ll start to doubt that He put you on this path when it doesn’t go the way you think it should. The key is knowing, deep in the fabric of your soul, that how the journey goes isn’t a validation—or invalidation—of God’s call.
We’re called to follow a suffering Savior, so you can be sure there will be difficulties and suffering. But we endure because He’s there with us. And we don’t take a detour unless it’s clear, deep in our soul, that He is the one telling us to do so.
Solutions to doubt
Focus on humility and learning God’s way (not OUR way) and trust that He IS leading you
- We did a podcast about humility that you can listen to.
- “He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them His way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees.” Psalm 25:9-10
- Learning God’s way helps you maintain passion. He will astound you as you encounter Him.
- “It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory!’ Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke…Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’” Isaiah 6:1-4; 8
Do a study on what happened when people in the Bible heard God and obeyed
- Was the path He set them on easy?
- Did they stay the course without constant confirmation?
Focus on distinguishing God’s voice from others
- “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave…'” 1 Kings 19:11-13
- Learn to listen rather than talk
Find a mentor or a group of believers with whom you can discuss your faith journey
- We often get to know God better by sharing our faith journeys with each other.
Follow the orders you’ve been given until you get new orders
- Did you ever think about what a big, long, difficult task it was for Noah to build the ark? Scholars say around 100-120 years. That’s much longer than writing a book, or even a whole writing career.
Assurance through doubt
The beauty of all of this is that once you really get to know God, to recognize how He speaks to His sheep and leads them, you can move forward in freedom, knowing that if He doesn’t want you on a particular path, He’ll let you know. If He hasn’t done so, then all you need to do is stay the course. Take it a step at a time, and trust that Almighty God, who loves you better than you can ever know, is with you, guiding you, using you, and bringing His will about in you.
We want to hear from you
What gives you confidence that you’re hearing God correctly?