Doubt can be one of the most terrifying experiences that a Christian can ever go through. It can challenge and test you at the most fundamental level. It can cause your entire world to fall apart and enter you into a spiritual nightmare—no, night-terror—that does not seem as if it is ever going to stop. There are many different types of and reasons for doubt. Christians can doubt God’s love, goodness, presence, and even his very existence.
This series is meant to help Christians dealing with doubt. This first post will be in bullet points. The next will be a more traditional format. Finally, I will share with you some of my own experiences with doubt.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t suppress your doubts and put them in a closet in the back of your mind. This is very easy to do and common among Christians. In fact, it is common among all belief systems. We seek to sustain our emotional high about whatever it is that we believe. Therefore, when something seems to militate against it, we tend to suppress these doubts. The problem is that the suppression of doubt can actually hinder growth in faith and set you up for a complete spiritual breakdown sometime in the future. It is only through learning to deal with our doubts properly that our faith can grow properly.
- While I don’t think it is good to suppress your doubts, I do think that you should take a “break” from them now and then. Some of us like to deal with every problem, every battle, every adversity head on until it is vanquished. However, this often does more harm than good. It is kind of like problems and stresses in your personal life: you need to take some time away from them. Doubt can be thought of as a spiritual stress or spiritual depression. As I said, many think that they need to ride them until they subside, but I don’t think this is best. Therefore, as best you can, take a break from them every once in a while and enjoy and practice the faith that you do have.
- Recognize that you are not alone in your doubts and struggles. Everyone will experience some sort of doubt from time to time. Sometimes this doubt will be severe, challenging the very foundations of your life and even your sanity. But you are not alone. Such is the Christian life on this (fallen and flawed) side of heaven.
- All doubt will be done away with one day. Enough for now on this.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your doubt. Now this becomes tricky because there are so many Christians out there who will not understand because they have been taught for so long to immediately shove their doubts in a closet in the back of their mind. Therefore, they are probably in denial about them. As well, they may look down upon you for having them and/or question your salvation. However, there are many honest and very strong Christians out there who feel and give permission to express doubts. Seek out those Christians and talk to them about your doubt. This will be very comforting. It is only when you think you are alone in your doubts that you will be quickly overwhelmed though a sort of “spiritual panic.”
- Understand that faith, like doubt, is not a black/white either/or issue. Doubt can be thought of as the bridge that makes up your faith and perfect faith. None of us has perfect faith. Doubt does not mean you don’t believe. Only if you have completely let go of the faith, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, are you to be counted among those who don’t believe.
- Know that there were many biblical spiritual giants that doubted. You may be asking a common question: :How can I know for sure?” Listen to what Abraham said after God had already told him that he was going to possess the covenant: “Oh God, how will I know [for sure] that I will possess it? (Gen. 15:8). Wait, shouldn’t it have been enough that God told him? Listen to John the Baptist after proclaiming Christ with great confidence at Christ’s baptism, John, who was called the greatest of all men: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for something else” (Luke 7:20). Think of what a conflict John must have been going through. He knew for certain at one point that Christ was the one. But after a time of God’s absence in his life (he was in prison getting ready to be executed), he began to doubt. No one will ever know the conflict that John went though at this time, but we cannot fail to recognize how significant this is.
- Remember that not all doubt is the same. There are three different types:
In the next post I will continue to deal with these.
Please be advised that this post is for Christians. Please reserve all comment for Christians.