Doubt and questioning are a normal part of maturing in the Christian faith. For many people, it’s the “rite of passage” that brings them from believing because they’ve been told, to believing because they know. In fact, I would say it’s not only normal: it’s healthy.
For my own part, doubt and questioning have been an integral part of my growth in my faith. And I have to tell you this: I still struggle with periods of doubt. They come now and then, shaking me to my core, and making me re-examine what I believe. But through it all, God has proven himself faithful, good, and true – and has used these scary periods of time to strengthen me, increasing my knowledge of Scripture and my understanding of himself.
Doubt is scary. It’s not a comfortable thing to have the ground ripped out from under you – I know. Here are some anchor points to help if you are feeling tossed about:
First, approach your doubt with prayer. This may seem almost a contradiction in terms, because God is the very Person you are doubting. So what? If he’s not there, he can’t answer. If he is there, he will be pleased to answer the honest seeker’s prayer. If he’s there and doesn’t want to answer an honest prayer, he wouldn’t be a God you’d want to serve, anyway. So pray: tell him you’re not sure he’s even there. Ask him to show you the truth. Remember: God can handle your questions. This period in your life comes as no surprise to him. Don’t be afraid to pray.
Second, keep reading the Bible. It’s very easy in periods of doubt to throw out the Bible and stop praying and cease going to church and all the rest of it – because you’re questioning all those things. But that means you are not giving God an honest chance to demonstrate to you that Christianity is true. If you doubt and question but only feed your mind with philosophies and books and conversations that are anti-Christian, you’re going to “load the dice” in favor of a non-Christian decision. Don’t kid yourself: we’re very easily swayed by what we take in – and if we take in 100% of a certain idea for a long enough time, we’re going to believe it’s true – simply because we don’t have any input presenting an alternative view. If you really want to know the truth, then you have to be fair in your search for it.
Third, verbalize your thoughts. Whether through a journal or by telling a close friend who is a strong Christian, put into words the doubts you are thinking. This is important, because, when you’re feeling tossed about in your thoughts and beliefs, it’s hard to think straight. I know that from long experience. But when you write it down or talk it through, you can look at your questions clearly and review what your thoughts are and what you’ve learned. That helps you think with your mind, rather than with your emotions – which, in times of doubt, tend to pull you in every direction.
As a final word of advice: Don’t rush this process. This is going to take time. It should. It’s serious business, and you are asking serious questions. Take the time you need. If that means months of reading and researching and asking questions, then take those months. God will be with you every step of the way.
I’ve been where you are. I understand how hard it is. And I’ve come through it with my feet on the solid Rock. You will, too.