What To Do With Doubt
What if doubt and faith aren’t opposites? What if doubt is a necessary step toward an authentic and deep living faith in Jesus? What if doubt isn’t something to be ashamed of? Friends, if that’s true then we are in a lot of trouble because we live in a culture of certainty that desires to crowd doubt out. Our cultural hesitancy to embrace doubt has resulted in a reduced faith. We’ve shamed, judged, and condemned those who doubt with the unintended consequence developing a new christendom of shallow faith. Men and women who avoid, repress, or deny their doubts never develop an authentic faith of their own. If they never wrestle with the things of faith they will never develop a strong faith. Doubt plays an important role in our faith development. Think about the examples of doubt we have from the New Testament:
- John the Baptist doubted. Do you remember how he sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the one we’ve been waiting for or is there another?” John the Baptist, who has known Jesus since they were in the womb; who baptized Jesus (an experience complete with Holy Spirit dove and divine voice), even he has doubts!
- Peter doubted. Peter, the one who stepped out of the boat and walked, at least a few miraculous steps, with Jesus upon the water, doubted and had to be pulled out of the water by Jesus.
- Thomas doubted. Perhaps the most famous of all who have doubted, needed to touch the wounds of Jesus before believing. Yet Jesus met him in the midst of his doubts.
- Jesus doubted. And, yes, even Jesus. Jesus who is fully-God and fully-human screamed upon the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
So, if you doubt, you’re in good company. Think about the amazing lives of faith they lived, in spite of their doubts, maybe even because of them. I recently read a bit about Mother Teresa. I’m sure you remember her as a strong woman of faith ministering to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta India. Surely she was someone who never doubted, right? It turns out that she spent most of her adult life wrestling with doubt, yet living her faith (You can read about Mother Teresa and her doubt HERE).
We all have a choice to make during our seasons and times of doubt. Will we let our doubts take us out? Or, will we let our doubts take us deeper? Our doubts can derail us, sidetrack us, and take us away from the life of faith. But they don’t have to. Doubt can also take us deeper into our relationship with God. Here are three ways that our doubt that might take us deeper in our relationship with Jesus:
- Own Your Doubt. Don’t be ashamed of it. Articulate your doubt well. Allow the doubt to be well defined. Don’t settle for a vague feeling. A well defined doubt can lead you forward in faith and will lack the power to destroy faith.
- Share Your Doubt. Don’t hold it in. Join with other Christians in the midst of your doubt. Share your doubt with Christian friends. Then pray together. You might find that as you open up about your doubt so will your friends and all of you will good deeper together.
- Work Your Doubt. Let your doubt become directive in your life. Your doubt can be a means of focusing the direction of your study, your work, and your life of devotion. Especially if you’ve defined your doubt well you can then focus your efforts in faithful living around that doubt.
So what will you do with your doubt? How will you react the next time you enter a season of doubt? What will you do the next time you hear someone express their doubt? Will you let your doubt take you out? Or, will you let your doubt take you deeper? Will you go deeper into a relationship with Jesus and further along this journey of faith? Let me know how it goes for you! Grace and Peace, Rich.