Day 2: Love is ... giving the benefit of the doubt - 4 February 2019

By Benescke Janse van Rensburg

I had to make an important decision a few weeks ago. I heard a story that disappointed me. In fact I think it was perhaps told to me with the intention to shock me – and it did. A specific woman I am supporting in her quest to overcome a challenge in her life, according to the story, fell back and made terrible decisions. From the onset, it seemed like the truth. My challenge was: Was I going to believe the story and act upon it, or was I going to give her the benefit of the doubt until I heard her side of the story?

You probably know exactly what I am talking about. Maybe your spouse ran late for your appointment or didn’t answer his or her phone. Your colleague did something that offended you. Or you hear a gossip story about someone you would never have expected. What was your first response? Did you explode while taking action in your rage? Did you spread that gossip story without checking your facts? Or did you choose to give the person the benefit of the doubt until you hear the whole story?

The benefit of the doubt has, in the past, saved many relationships and prevented unnecessary conflict. In the above-mentioned story, I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt. Walking away after speaking to her, I realized that if I didn’t do it, I might have irrevocably damaged a relationship. The story was totally false.

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt indeed can be the greatest gift of all - precisely because it proves you trust and respect him or her. At times, we need to give God the benefit of the doubt too. When facing painful situations (a child dying, a relationship ending, debt getting bigger, you not finding a job or being diagnosed with a sickness), our faith is tested. Do we blame God? Do we take offense in God? Or do we give Him the benefit of the doubt, knowing that although situations might not make sense, He remains in control of our lives?

In Revelation 22:13, God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” In Deuteronomy 29:29 we read: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God . . .” That includes things we do not understand in our lives. And in Romans 8: 38-39 we are reminded: “For 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.”

My hope is that during seasons of change or difficulty, that we would remind ourselves that we are safe when giving Him the benefit of the doubt. He loves us and He knows the future. God bless.

Father God, thank you for protecting me during hard seasons. Please forgive me where I took offence, blaming You when I did not understand a specific situation in my life. And help me to keep my eyes on You. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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