Doubts are much more common among Christians than any of us like to admit. In fact, I suspect that if we were totally honest, we all have doubts somewhere in our Christian life. You may not have doubts about God’s existence—though many who read this do—but you may have doubts about God’s love for you, your purpose, your place in life, or even about the Bible.
WHAT DOUBT CREATES
Doubts create fears. When you have doubts you also induce fear in your life. God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), and the Bible says that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). But both verses hint that fear will still exist in your life, but that fear does not need to dominate it.
This means that doubt will always be present in your life, but doubts do not have to dominate or paralyze your life. There are ways of dealing with your doubts that will increase your faith, allow you to find purpose, and give you peace.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR DOUBT AND YOUR FAITH
It is commonly believed that doubt is the opposite of faith. I’m not sure that is accurate, because you may be able to argue that faith cannot exist without doubts. You can argue that if someone had zero doubts, then nothing they do would ever be in faith—or if not that, there would be no stepping out in faith.
Take for example a common chair. The last time you sat in a chair, you did so without thought, without any doubt whatsoever that the chair would hold you up. You just plopped yourself down in it, and even after you sat it in, you didn’t marvel, “Wow! This chair held me up! Amazing.” In fact, you gave the chair no thought at all.
So was sitting in that chair an act of faith? You certainly trusted the chair and put all your weight on it. So is that faith? Some would argue that it is, and if so, then it is a weak faith because you took the chair and its ability to hold you up for granted, almost in contempt.
But if you had doubts about the chair, and you feared that it would not hold you up, then the act of sitting in it anyway would be a much greater act of faith. And once you sat in it and it held your weight, you would feel strong emotions of relief and perhaps amazement. You would be thinking of that chair. You would be grateful that it held your weight. And you would probably even comment to other people about it.
That is where the key on how to deal with our doubts comes into play. Faith is best expressed when overcoming doubts. Great faith is an assault on your fears and doubts. In Mark 9:24, a father whose child was demonically possessed was questioned as to his faith. He responded, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” I dare say that this is all of us. There is a mixture of faith and doubt in each of us. In the story, the father’s faith overcame his doubts so that his son could be healed.
DEALING WITH YOUR DOUBTS
First, doubts themselves are not wrong. You are not a bad Christian because you have doubts. You are only a “bad” Christian if you allow the fear that your doubts bring to paralyze you and keep you from moving forward in faith. And you are not a bad person because you have doubts and fears. Join the club.
Second, the way to deal with your doubts is to tackle your fears. What do you fear the most in the Christian life? Is it God’s love for you? If so, then find the source of that fear. Do you feel this way because of your financial condition or physical condition? Do you feel this way because some venture of yours collapsed? Just look at what you think God should change to prove His love to you and you’ll know the source.
Once you’ve isolated the source of your fear and doubt, then you need to take a step of faith that directly attacks that doubt and fear. For example, if you doubt God’s love for you and you identified the source as your current dismal financial situation, then you need to pray and ask God to help you identify someone God wants you to help out financially. It doesn’t make much sense to give money to a needy person when you are a needy person yourself, but if that is the source of your doubts and fears, then that is what you need to do. It really works. God will come through for you when you directly attack the source of your doubts and fears with faith.
When you step out in faith, using the example above, and give money to someone in need, you will see the miracles of God. You will see God working in your life. Your step of faith will attack your doubts, and God will come through for you.
Peter, after denying Christ on the Cross, fled back to his old lifestyle, filled with doubts and fears. How could he serve God after failing like that? How could Jesus love him after denying Him? So when Jesus called to him on the shore of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter to do something that directly attacked the source of his doubts and fears: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). It worked. Peter preached at Pentecost and saw God come through for him. Do you think that erased Peter’s doubts? Absolutely.
Friend, you have doubts and fears. To deal with them, you need to step out in faith in such a way that you directly defy the source of your doubts. God will come through for you.