My lecturer leaned forward, his face thoughtful and his lips curled into his characteristic smile. “The Psalmist is telling us that it’s okay to doubt our faith, as long we we doubt our doubts.” Within a few seconds he had moved on, but God had implanted those words firmly into my mind, and three years later, they still come to mind frequently.
Last night someone joined a conversation at church, and without hesitation she asked if other people ever question their faith. Yes, yes, yes. The answers was unanimous, and the questioner smiled ever so slightly.
The conversation turned to her own doubts, and it was my privilege to help think through some of them. The whole time, we worked our way back to assurance in Jesus as a solid foundation from which we have license to question our faith, and the importance of doubting those doubts.
Walking to the train station after church, I couldn’t stop thinking about those doubts. Not just my friend’s, but my own, and the many unspoken doubts that lay in people’s minds as they go to church, and I wonder if we create a community in which voicing our doubts is encouraged.
One suggestion – and I’m sure there are many more – is to begin changing the culture from up the front. Speak of the doubts you’ve engaged with when you’re preaching and leading, speak of how they were resolved, and how Jesus never abandoned you in your doubt, because you were bought at too high a price to be refunded.
Church culture is often set from the front. We have the privilege of going first, so that others can have the gift of going second. In youth groups, and children’s ministries, it’s the same. If we create space to ask questions, without thinking someone is falling away as soon as they begin to doubt, then we will have a culture in which questions are asked, doubts are doubted, and faith is strengthened.
For me, the conversations about doubts often turn into moments where faith is strengthened as we push ourselves to draw nearer to God so we could know Him better. These are some of the most joyful conversations I have; these are the conversations that remind me that the salvation Jesus brings is stronger than any of my doubts.
It’s okay to doubt your faith, as long as you doubt your doubts.
How do you engage with your own doubts? How do you help others doubt their own doubts?