Faith isn’t destroyed or diminished by doubt. The opposite is true: faith is the answer to doubt.
When you are in the desert and are dying of thirst, collapsing in the sand won’t take you to water. When you are drowning in the ocean, becoming motionless won’t save your life. Why when we are doubting do we often believe that bringing our Christian walk to a halt will provide us with answers? We get hung up by our doubt, refusing to move forward until we have answers.
Sometimes we inadvertently or even deliberately hit the brakes to create distance between us and God. That’s why turning to sin in the midst of doubt is such a bad idea. The progression often goes like this: we get hurt and say something like, “I am really struggling with my faith. I need a break from church for a while.” Usually that also means a break from prayer, a break from the Bible, and a general break from our Christian community and even our moral code.
But if we were to be honest and say what’s really going on, it might sound more like, “I’m not sure God exists or loves me. So I’m going to isolate myself from Him, His Word, and all the people I know who believe in Him. Instead, I’ll turn to the things I know will give me satisfaction and pleasure until I feel happy enough to believe in God again.”
How can we expect to find God by deliberately pushing Him away?
We all understand that cheating on your spouse isn’t going to solve marital problems. It may bring satisfaction for a while, but it certainly won’t fix any problems. Instead, it will most likely be catalytic in the ultimate destruction of the marriage. Our relationship with God is no different.
Throughout Scripture, God never challenges whether doubt should exist. It is the one point of unity between us and God—the recognition that we struggle with faith, belief, and trust. Where we differ from God is what we think should follow doubt. We think the burden rests on God to erase our doubt. God knows that the burden rests on us to continue to trust and wait on Him, even in our doubt.
Our programmed response to confusion is doubt, while the Psalms teach us to respond to confusion with faith. We think doubt demands an answer. God thinks doubt demands faith.
We look at doubt and think it needs an urgent resolution. God looks at doubt and thinks we need patience and endurance.
It could be said that when we think doubt is the problem between us and God, the reality is that an absence of faith or trust might be the real problem.
Partially excerpted from The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God, and the Necessity of Faith.
Here’s a brief discussion about doubt that I had with Tony “The Beat Poet” Kriz in his Off the Highway blog series.