The nation of Israel had been in the wilderness of the Judean desert for forty years. Pretty much a whole generation had died and the new one needed its own faith. Only Moses, Caleb and Joshua survived this wilderness experience. The new generation hadn't seen the miracles at the Exodus, the ten plagues in Egypt, the locusts or the crossing of the Red Sea. They had no corporate memory of God's goodness. We would say today, "God has no spiritual grandchildren" and that was certainly true of Israel at that point. Each individual person needed to discover his or her own Christian faith and also their own doubts. Being uncertain about something, to think that something may not possibly have been true or just to have no confidence in an idea helped reinforce this doubt in the long term.✞
The Ark of the Covenant for the people of Israel was the symbol of the presence of God. In a unique way, God's presence was revealed by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night emanating out from the Ark. The people were, therefore, careful to keep their distance and respect God's dwelling place there. Today, people do not usually reverence God. In our highly technological society, many insist that they are in total charge of their destinies. They imagine they have come of age and no longer needed the so-called crutch of a Supreme Being.✞
Yet Christian faith and doubt can be powerful tools in bringing us to know this Supreme Being. This is summed up in an old poem possibly by the American hymn writer Thoro Harris (1874-1955),
"Doubt sees the obstacles,
Faith sees the way.
Doubt sees the darkest night,
Faith sees the day!
Doubt dreads to take a step,
Faith soars on high.
Doubt questions 'Who believes?'
Faith answers 'I'"
We can all say "Amen" to this sentiment!✞