Doubt is natural in every human life on nearly every conceivable level. In human relationships there are doubts about loyalties, loves, behavior, and intentions. In education there is doubt about value and truth. In business there is doubt about decision making, markets, and people. And on the story goes.
Certainty, genuine certainty, is rare. Often, when humans project certainty they are ripe for a dislocation of their beliefs unless they have already processed their doubts. False certainty is a thin defense against the inevitable waves of doubt. A Christian will not settle their doubts or the doubts of others by pretending to ‘have it all together’ or acting as if they have all the answers to all the difficult questions.
In my experience, doubt is not only universal, it can be a powerful teacher. If doubt is handled well it can lead us into genuine insight and a deeper relationship with God. If doubt is handled poorly, it can lead either to a false and thin confidence or a shipwrecked faith. Here are some quick thoughts on how not to handle doubt.
Do not pretend they don’t exist. This may be the first line of defense when a genuine issue arises within our hearts and minds or in conversation with a friend, but the tendency to act as if the doubt does not exist or is not significant actually gives more weight to the doubt. Over time a person will begin to think that because they or their Christian friends were unable to even admit the doubt, it must be scary enough to be true.
Do not give or accept trite, quick answers. This has the same long-term consequence as refusing to admit they are real. Simplistic answers do not suffice to deal with significant issues or problems people face, which raise doubts about God and his nature. Suffering and loss are significant, and so should be the process of dealing with them in light of the existence of a good and providential God. Feel enough confidence in God’s active care of people to take time and wrestle with real issues.
Do not give in. The Christian faith is true; it’s all true. Giving in is common among those who struggle with doubt, but that need not be the case. Others have been where you are and others have been in more dire situations than you and they have found God to be just and true. You can, too. God knows we struggle with doubt, so he meets people in deep and powerful ways when they seek him in the midst of their personal darkness. I found a God who cares in the depths of feeling minuscule and I no longer worry about his loving attention. Let your doubt lead you to a revelation of his unchanging character. You cannot do that if you give in.