By: Dr. Ed Young
Doubt isn’t something we like to talk about. Mature, faithful Christians aren’t supposed to doubt God. Right? Not quite.
It’s true that no one likes to go through seasons of doubt. But every Christian does experience doubt.
I believe it’s time for us as God’s people to stop hiding our doubt and instead be open and honest about it. Because doubt is an important part of the Christian journey to growth and maturity.
So, I’m sharing three lessons about doubt to help you grow in faith...
1. Doubt can draw you closer to God. If you ask most people, “What is the opposite of faith?”, they will respond, “Doubt.” But doubt is not the opposite of faith. Unbelief is. In reality, doubt is neutral; it’s in between. It can take you closer to God, or it can slide you further away from Him.
I heard that someone once introduced himself in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting by saying, “My name is Bob, and I’m a grateful alcoholic.” It sounds strange, but it was his story. Bob discovered God and a better way to live life through his addiction. Without the struggle, he would not have experienced life change.
The same is true for doubt, as my son Ben discovered. It took Ben years of battling intense doubt to discover real faith. Doubt pushed him to strive for more than “Sunday school” answers in his relationship with God. Ben realized that doubt was a necessary component of authentic faith.
2. Doubt has been around a long time. We could trace the history of doubt through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Or, we could jump into the Bible and see that many giants of our faith struggled with persistent doubts, too.
Doubt played a key role in Eve believing the serpent’s lies over the truth of God. In Genesis 3:1, the serpent said to Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (NASB). Adam and Eve had a decision to make: Would they trust what God said… or would they doubt Him?
Though doubt originated from an outside source (the serpent), it appears that Adam and Eve had the capacity to doubt from the beginning. If they faced doubt, you and I don’t need to be surprised that it’s part of our story as well.
3. Doubt invites you to have faith. Author and theologian Frederick Buechner once said, “If you don't have doubts, you’re either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants-in-the-pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving.”
Even Mother Teresa faced doubt. In a book published after her death, she wrote, “I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.” Yet Mother Teresa remains one of the most admired women in history. Doubt wasn’t the end of Mother Teresa’s ministry. If anything, it focused her faith in more powerful ways. She gave her life to serve the helpless in one of the most impoverished places on the planet.
Clearly, the absence of doubt is not a requirement of faith. Instead, it’s an invitation to put real faith into action.