Doubt is the brother of Faith
Dec 31, 2016 // By:Dave // No Comment
Most christians I know seem to be afraid of doubt; as if it lurked like a wolf in the shadows at night waiting to claim another victim who wandered too far from the light of the campfire. We are called to walk by faith so entertaining doubt is abandoning faith, right ?! Not necessarily.
There are different kinds of doubt.
One form states objections as fact and asserts that there is no further truth to be found on a matter. I.e. “God cant be good if he allows suffering so I’m giving up on this entire thing … done”. This is actually a poorly disguised pride that equates to “I cant resolve these conflicts with the facts I think I have and if I cant figure this out, I dont want any help or additional facts” and ends with “if I cant make this work, no one else can so I’m abandoning this whole thing right here and now.”
This same conflict can also be approached with a more humble doubt sounding like “how can God call himself good and still allow suffering?” This leads to investigation, exploration, more information gets added to the equation. Truth is discovered through prayer, reading the Word, fellowshiping with other believers, and even direct questions may be asked of mentors/teachers if you are fortunate enough to have a mentor in your life.
The first doubt builds a wall and says “I dont like this, I cant figure it out, and I give up”.
The second doubt stays open and says “I dont understand this, I need help to keep doing this”.
The first doubt refuses to learn and fails.
The second doubt insists on learning and succeeds. This kind of doubt engages the world around us. It takes the assertion of “God’s not good,” and forms it into the question, “Is God good?”
Poet Khalil Gibran wrote, “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” Doubt can often be painful, even risky because it is giving license to question the things we cling to at our core.
Inviting doubt as a tool to grow is not a new radical idea. We find it all through the bible. Look at the forfathers who were honored as a result of sincere doubt, questions and wanting to be closer to God but not knowing how; Abraham, Jacob, David (look also at the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes all clearly asking the big questions)
We’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that faith is blind, that doubt is the enemy of belief, or that doubters will inevitably lose their faith. 1 Pet 3:15 tells to have that ready answer. Does this not require working out the reasoning behind why we believe we are saved and why, and then be able to explain it intelligibly to another? Does this not require some basic questioning of our current beliefs and understandings to drive all of it deeper (like roots of a tree growing deeper into the ground) Psalm 1:3, Jeremiah 17:8.
Philip Yancey is quoted: “The church has sometimes chastised people who admit their weakness and failure, and our society has an aversion to suffering. So Christians naturally tend to hide behind a thin veneer of cheerfulness and health, while they secretly hurt and doubt.”
Barna research shows that one of the six reasons young people are leaving the church is because it’s unfriendly to doubters. Maybe young people get their honest doubts met with statements like “just believe more” which is basically “just don’t think about it.”
Doubt means a willingness to place our current stability at risk. There is a lot at stake. We dont want to rock a boat that is barely afloat, right ?! Some see doubt as a road leading to apostacy. Let’s stop right here and ask ourselves who does the boat belong to ? Who is responsible for keeping this thing above water and keeping me in it?
Is not God himself the keeper of our souls (1 Cor 13:9). Is not His Spirit a seal (Eph 1:13, 2 Cor 1:22) of His eternal promise for my salvation. It it not His promise to complete the work He began in me? (Phil 1:6)
I am not talking about the doubt spoken of in James 1:5-8. This is referring to asking for wisdom from God and not expecting God to answer the prayer. The bible refers to this as being doubleminded. Someone who continues to let go of what they already know and are like a wave of the ocean blown and tossed about by the wind. No strength or conviction to be found. What I am talking about is wrestling with the major philosphical issues of the faith, encountering what appear to be contradictions, knowing we are staring in the face of our own mental limitations and asking God for help to have deeper understanding of who He was, is, and always will be.
Being afraid of doubt (for fear that it may take us somewhere were God cannot hold us and keep us) is saying “I dont believe God can keep His promises” It means “God cant handle my little-brain doubts and He’ll give up on me” Really?! Did He give up on Thomas? (John 20:24-29) Did He abandon Abraham, Jacob or David? Not at all. He understands the minds we have and how they work because He designed them in the first place. He knows that sincere doubt and humble questions are how we grow in our faith and become stronger for those around us.
Sincere doubt is really not doubting God at all (it’s just doubting our own understand and asking for help from the right places)
Don’t be afraid to be willing to “rock the boat” and ask questions that drive you deeper into the Word and closer to God. (after all, God is your keeper, not yourself) Let Him hold you and perfect you.
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux