In the first post in this series, I said that I believe that, through the story of ‘doubting Thomas,’ we can learn some tips for how to doubt our faith. And, as we wrestle with our own doubts, I believe we will find the new life that Christ offers us as we grow in our faith.
I believe that the first step is to recognize your doubts. While this may seem pretty simple on the surface, I think we struggle the most here. We have areas of our life where we know we are hesitant to live by faith, but we cannot identify why. Or, if we know there is a doubt, we ignore it, stuff it down and pretend it does not exist. It seems easier to not deal with those hard questions.
Doubts are confusing. Sometimes they are deeply intellectual questions for which we may not have the time or energy to seek the evidence. Sometimes they are deeply emotional and we are unable to detect or understand the source of that feeling of doubt. Other times, we know the answers and do not have any emotional hang-ups, but just simply unwilling to act on what we know we should. Whatever the case, I believe it is important for us to go through the process of recognizing that doubt.
In the story of doubting Thomas, he has clearly recognized his. John 20:26 says this:
The other disciples told him (Thomas), “We have seen the Lord.” But he (Thomas) said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
One thing about Thomas is that he does not seem to be bashful about the fact that he doubts that Jesus really did raise from the dead. His closest friends are telling him it happened and yet Thomas boldly proclaims that unless he sees (and even touches) Jesus for himself, he will not believe. If there is one thing about Thomas it is that he has recognized his doubt.
What about you? Have you recognized your doubt? Do you have questions left unanswered? Do you have feelings of uncertainty or the presence of hesitancy?
I want to help you recognize your doubts. Below is a list of common doubts about our faith. I am going to ask you to read through them very slowly. Here is how you might be able to tell you have a doubt. As you read a sentence, you may feel a sense of unrest in your heart. It may be a nudge of insecurity. It might be a pang of vulnerability. You may think to yourself, “I don’t know how to answer that.” Doubt feels that way.
I do not want you to get overwhelmed. Simply recognize in your heart the ONE that is the strongest as you read this list.
- How can we be sure that God really exists?
- Isn’t it prideful to say that Christianity is true and other religions are false?
- How can a good God allow so many terrible things happen to me?
- You can’t believe that everything in the Bible is true, can you?
- How can I live for God when I am so unsure of myself?
- How can I believe that Jesus really came back to life after dying?
- How could God love me after all of the terrible things I have done?
- How could a good God send people to Hell?
- God might answer other people’s prayers, but am I really supposed to believe He will answer mine?
- Am I really saved?
- Aren’t science and faith in God opposed to one another?
- How can I be sure that I am really going to heaven when I die?
- If I am doing everything I can to follow God, why does life have to be so hard?
- Why doesn’t God perform miracles like he did in the Bible?
- How am I supposed to believe Christianity is true when so many intelligent people reject it?
Did you recognize the presence of a doubt in your heart? Did you feel that pang or nudge or sense of insecurity? Did you have any questions of doubt that you could identify? Now, your particular doubt may or may not be on this list. There are certainly more things we can question and doubt than just these. Or, you may not have a doubt you are dealing with right now. If that’s the case, that is great! However, if you do have a doubt, I would encourage you to recognize it. Acknowledge its presence. Don not run away from it, but identify it.
Now, this is just the first step. What do we do once we recognize the presence of a doubt?
I’ll never forget when Laura and I moved into our first house (not the one in this picture). We spent hours and hours renovating, painting, carpeting, cleaning and finally making it our own. Shortly after we completed the arduous project, we sat on our couch in our newly renovated living room with a sense of satisfaction. Laura snuggled up close as a thunderstorm began to roll in. As the rain pattered on the top of our roof, we took a deep sigh as we enjoyed those moments. Then, suddenly, water began trickling down our wall. That trickle then became a stream pouring down onto the carpet. We grabbed buckets, towels trying to protect all of that work we had just put in. Surprise! We had just discovered a hole in our roof that needed to be repaired.
Let me ask you a question. Should we have stopped at discovering the hole in our roof? NO! Recognizing we have a hole in our roof, while necessary for having a repaired roof is just the beginning of the work, is it not? Now that it has been discovered, the real work begins.
Doubts are the same way. They are like a hole in the roof. If not dealt with, they will just lead to more problems. You cannot ignore them or pretend like they are not there. Recognizing a doubt is like identifying an area in need of repair. While not a good thing, once identified, you can properly deal with it.
Here is the other thing about recognizing doubts: If you are not actively dealing with your doubts, do you know when you are most likely to have the biggest problem? The biggest problems will be when the thunderstorms of life roll in. Just like identifying a hole in your roof gives you a clear indication of what needs repair, so identifying doubts can help you know where your faith may be in need of repair. So, there is more work to be done after you identify your doubt. That is what we will look at next time in part three of this series.