To experience doubt is to be human. Even for people who follow Jesus, moments of doubt will come–most likely even more than once.
You may experience doubt about your faith or even the existence of God. Or you might experience doubt in the promises of God and whether or not he is really with you in the midst of your difficult situations.
Doubt is very real. But I fear it’s something we don’t talk about enough. When we understand doubt as being the exact opposite of faith, I understand why people have fear about talking about it. But doubt isn’t the opposite of faith. It’s part of it.
If we believe that Jesus truly meets us where we are, then that means he meets us in even our place of doubt. Dealing with doubt doesn’t mean having to live with guilt or shame. Instead, we should be on guard and intentional about working through it.
And there are active steps we can take during moments of doubt to make sure we come out on the other end with an even greater faith. Here are 4 ways to persevere through doubt.
1. Be honest.
Doubt isn’t really a comfortable thing, in any aspect of our life. But it’s most certainly not celebrated when it comes to your faith. When doubts begin to push past your subconscious and into the forefront of your mind, a natural response is to ignore it.
I totally understand. It seems as if Christians should never doubt. Because if you do, then, of course, it’s a sign of weakness. It’s even a reason to question your salvation. At least those are the lies that ran through my mind when I experienced doubt.
One of the worst things we can do with our doubt is to push it aside. Be honest with yourself and allow the doubt you’re dealing with to come into full view. Not because you want to doubt toward undoing your faith, but because you want your faith to become even stronger as you deal with your doubts.
During the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when he was out rounding up his disciples, he went to the city of Galilee and called Philip. Philip was filled with excitement and told his friend Nathanael that the one they had been waiting for had come. Nathanael was less than impressed and said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” To which Philip answered, “Come and see.”
Nathanael doubted the validity of what Philip was telling him, but he still went to see. And when he encountered Jesus his doubts were put to rest.
Facing your doubts head on is the best way to resolve them. Regardless of what your doubts are, be honest with yourself and know that Jesus will meet you even in that place.
2. Pursue Jesus.
When doubt strikes, our natural inclination is to hide until we have it figured out. People have been doing that since the beginning of humanity. Eve doubted what God had told her and ended up hiding from him. And yet, God came looking for Eve and Adam.
Jesus already knows that we struggle with doubt (and a whole list of other ugly things). But that didn’t stop him from dying on the cross for us. It’s interesting to think Jesus could take on the sin of the world on our behalf and yet we don’t think he could handle us wrestling with doubt.
Instead of running away from Jesus, we should run towards him. Even if the doubt you are struggling with is about him. Jesus wants you to seek him even in your doubt.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the story of the disciple who is commonly known as “doubting Thomas.” Thomas knew Jesus would die and rise again in three days. He knew this because Jesus told him it would happen. But when it did happen, Thomas was surprised and said he wouldn’t believe it unless he put his hands into Jesus’ wounds.
Eight days later Thomas and Jesus came face to face.
I’m sure Thomas was filled with shame. He was just waiting for Jesus to rebuke his unbelief. But that’s not what Jesus did. Jesus held out his hands for Thomas to see and feel his wounds, to prove he really did raise from the dead.
Jesus could have responded in so many different ways. But the one way he did respond was to meet Thomas where he was–to allow his disbelief to turn into belief.
This can only happen in the midst of our doubt if we actually look to Jesus. He wants to be with you as you’re wrestling and questioning. He wants to be the voice of truth that combats the lies and that reminds you he is who he says he is.
Doubt can either cause you to turn from Jesus or to turn towards him. You have to choose which one will be you.
The call for God’s people to remember what he has done is all throughout scripture. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert they were called to remember when God parted the Red Sea. There are multiple psalms written about remembering the work of God’s hand in the midst of turmoil.
In the New Testament, we are called to remember what Jesus saved us from and what he saved us for.
We are called to remember because we forget so easily. Current circumstances have the tendency to cloud our perception of the bigger picture. The same thing happens when it comes to doubts in our life. We have to actively call to memory the clear moments in our life when we saw God’s faithfulness and when he showed himself to us.
God is faithful in every season. He’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We’re the ones who change and we’re the ones who need reminding of who he is.
So in your moments of doubt, be intentional about remembering specific situations in your life when Jesus made himself clear to you.
4. Tell Someone.
The enemy wants nothing more than to isolate us and keep us alone in our doubts. Freedom comes when we put words to our thoughts among friends and people who are invested in our lives.
God will use others to speak truth to your doubts and reminders to your heart. It’s among people who care for and love you that you should be able to process your doubts. It may be hard to be honest about your doubts among people whom you think would never doubt the way you are, but it’s far more likely that they have experienced the same types of doubts.
It’s important for you to find people who will come alongside you and point you to Jesus in the midst of your doubts. People who will bring discernment and wisdom to the conversation. The people you choose to share your doubts with are important, because you want them to help keep you moving towards Jesus, rather than away from him.
Our faith is meant to be lived out in the midst of community. When the community you’re part of seeks Jesus, you’ll find perseverance, endurance, and strength. You are not meant to battle alone, but to battle alongside one another. Surround yourself with people who will fight for your faith.
You are not alone in your doubt.
If you are experiencing doubt know you are not alone. You are not the first, nor the last. This is not a negative reflection of your faith, but it can be an experience that strengthens your faith.
Do not fear doubt. But know that you must move towards Jesus in your doubt.