When you’re a Christian and struggle with doubt, you may wonder what’s wrong with you. You may even think your doubts prove you were never a Christian in the first place or, at best, a horrible hypocrite.
You might be tempted to give up, right?
The truth is, struggling with doubt is lonely and overwhelming and discouraging. But your struggling can also bring you closer to God.
This article by BCC staffer and counselor Lucy Ann Moll appeared first here and is used with her permission.
What doubting sounds like
Struggling often sounds like this: A counselee I’ll call Katie began thinking God just didn’t care. First, her husband pushed her away. He kept playing video games late into the evening, even though he has promised he’d let up. So she thought–>Why did God give me an insensitive husband?
Second, her church made the news in a bad way. Under allegations of financial mismanagement and of a temperamental pastor who bullied the staff, her church was hurting. People were leaving in droves, disheartened. And she thought–> Couldn’t God have stopped this?
Finally, stress at work was getting worse. And her divorced dad kept bugging her to spend more time with him. And a good friend moved across country. It was just too much. Again, her thoughts questioned God –> Why isn’t God helping me? Don’t You care?D
Doubt sounds like tears dripping on parched land.
So why hasn’t God — all powerful and all wise and all loving — made Katie’s life turn out better? And why can’t she know with certainty right here, right now that everything will turn out okay and she’ll feel peace again?
And what about you? What about your cries for relief from life’s struggles?
So we walk by …
… Faith. The Bible gives the reason for our struggles.
We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7
Yet, with physical bodies in a physical world, we very often rely on getting our certainty through our physical senses of touch, hearing, smell, taste, and sight. Elyse Fitzpatrick in Doubt: Trusting God’s Promises adds that another way we know what’s cetain is having been taught it. Consider the Civil War, or anything of historical record. Indeed, how would we know the Civil War actually happened but by studying it and seeing artifacts and visiting battlefields?
You’re in good company
Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist — these three faithful men each had their doubts too. You’re in good company, dear Doubter.
- Abraham and his wife Sarah doubted God’s promise that he would give them a son in their old age (Gen. 17:17, 18:12).
- Having parted the Red Sea and witnessed many other miracles, Moses still harbored unbelief (Num. 20:12).
- John the Baptist had expected Jesus to bring judgment and, while in prison, he sent a message to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:3).
And we cling to our hope
When you struggle with doubt, you may wonder if you’re the problem. Or that this whole Christian thing is a joke. Or that you’ve been taught all wrong.
“Perhaps you started your Christian walk with a strong faith but have faced difficulties and setbacks, and now you’re wondering whether if any of it is true,” Fitzpatrick wonders. If this sounds like you, please don’t worry or think you’re the worst Christian ever.
Everyone questions the truth they had once believed wholeheartedly.
So what’s the hope?
I encouraged Katie, as I’ve encouraged my own heart (yes, I’ve struggled with doubt too), with biblical truth reminders from J.I. Packer in his classic Knowing God.
- I am a child of God.
- God is my Father.
- Heaven is my home.
- Each day in one day closer.
- My Savior is my brother.
- Every Christian is my brother too.
My prayer is you’ll wrestle with your doubts and not give up. Choose to keep reminding yourself of the truth your clung to when you first came to faith in Jesus Christ. You are not alone. God is with you.