I like to walk along the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, and watch the waves. I often stand for long periods of time mesmerized by the action of the waves. I find myself, like so many others, projecting human characteristics onto the waves. People, for example, have characterized waves as ‘angry’, or ‘boisterous’, or ‘raging’, to list just a few.
At times the waves seem to me to be restless and agitated. Scripture reinforces my observations. Isaiah 57:20 speaks of people that are at odds with God as being “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest.” In Ephesians 4:14, Paul admonishes us “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…” James 1:6-7 says we are to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
The phrase in the text of James 1:6 “like a wave of the sea” is the same Greek phrase translated in the Isaiah and Ephesians texts as “troubled” and “tossed to and fro”. Such people are filled with doubt, wavering between belief and unbelief. Doubting means “to be divided in one’s mind”. The term does not describe a momentary doubt but a divided allegiance, an uncertainty. James also relates doubting to being ‘double minded’. Double-minded literally means “two souls.” If one part of a person is set on God and the other is set on this world (see Matthew 6 :24), there will be constant turmoil within.
Jamison, Fausset, & Brown offers this note: “’driven with the wind’ is from without, and ‘tossed’ is from within, by its own instability.”
Sometimes the waves seem to rush toward the shore only to be shoved back by the backwash. Sometimes believers move forward in faith and hope only to be pushed back into a sea of doubt.
I believe the answer to this restlessness, to being tossed to and fro, to being driven by the winds of doubt is found in James 4:7& 8: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded.”
Let Jesus speak to your heart if it is troubled by doubt. Hear Him say, “Peace, be still.” Then know “that even the wind and sea obey him” (Mark 4:39-41).
~ Brother Roy