I can’t remember a time in my life without God. However, several years ago I walked through a season of doubt that was difficult, scary, lonely, and isolating.
What can Christians do when they are beginning to question everything they have ever believed?
I grew up in a loving Christian home and attended a healthy church that taught me to love God and his word. Some of my earliest childhood memories are singing along with Christian songs on tape in the back seat of my mom’s car and rushing off to AWANA with my dad, and for that foundation I am grateful. But through a long series of events, I began to experience doubts that sent me spiraling downward:
Does God even really exist?
Did we just make him up to help us deal with life and death?
If a higher power does exist, how can we know he resembles the God of the Bible?
Do I only believe in God because Christianity is all I’ve ever known?
I was pierced by so many questions that it felt like I was playing Jenga, pulling out all of the pieces and wondering if the whole tower would come crashing down. It was hard for me to even read my Bible because every time I opened it up, I was faced with the constant assault of nagging questions that threatened to dismantle everything I had based my life upon.
I kept this struggle private for a long time, not feeling permission to ask these questions and worrying what other people would say about me if I actually verbalized some of these doubts. But everything seemed to change when I opened up to other people, sharing my fears and struggles. I still had all the same questions, but the questions weren’t quite as scary anymore.
I still struggle with doubt, and I probably always will. Going through those struggles changed and shaped me in profound ways that I’m still trying to understand. The questions still remain, but I have to remind myself that questions are not a bad thing. I want a real, robust, and genuine faith that is based on the truth, not just on something someone else told me. I still don’t like to face the doubts, but I know that the faith I have on the other side of the struggle is deeper, stronger, richer, and more historically rooted than I ever had before.
This short article can’t possibly cover all the various reasons, motivations, and struggles that can accompany someone who is walking through a season of doubt. But I’d like to offer a few pieces of advice for anyone who might see a bit of themselves in my story:
Talk to Someone
You don’t have to fight this battle alone.
Give yourself permission for sincere doubt.
The church is the best place to bring your questions; find someone who you trust and open up about your struggles.
Keep Asking Questions
Doubt is not a sin.
It is part of being human and can be a healthy part of our spiritual growth.
Keep a Soft Heart
It is possible to think critically with your mind while still maintaining a gentle spirit.
Our quest for truth should not leave us in a place where we are cynical, resentful, angry, or stubborn.
Wrestling through the toughest questions in life is not always easy, simple, convenient, or pretty, but it doesn’t have to be lonely, scary, or painful. We can find joy in the journey. The hard work of faith is worth it to know God and look more like him.
I believe; help my unbelief!