There have been a number of recent stories about high profile Christians either announcing they have left the faith or that their faith is shaky. However, there are plenty of people that we have never heard of going through doubt all the time.
What should we do if we experience doubt? I will admit that I have had doubts. I am a skeptic by nature. My skepticism made me doubt Christianity and I became an atheist. My skepticism made me doubt atheism and I became a theist (later I became a Christian).
Even after becoming a Christian, even after becoming a pastor, I have had doubts. I feel confident about faith now, although there are still plenty of things that I question.
What should we do when our faith becomes shaky? One option is to announce on social media that we have lost our faith. But I think there are some better options.
- First, don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world to have doubts. Doubt is actually a healthy part of having faith. It means we are asking questions.
- Don’t take an all or nothing attitude. Just because you doubt one part of the faith doesn’t mean that you have to give up the whole.
- Figure out if you are doubting primary, secondary or tertiary beliefs. It is one thing to doubt whether there was a global flood, it is another to doubt the existence of Jesus.
- Pray. But don’t expect one prayer will result in an immediate flood of faith. Be honest with your prayers. Read the Psalms and discover how the Bible welcomes brutal honesty of emotions.
- Don’t rely on emotions. Emotions are not bad. But not feeling God’s presence isn’t enough to give up on God. We are not promised to always feel those emotions.
- Find someone you trust to talk to. Unhealthy doubt breeds in solitude. Don’t talk to just anyone, find someone you can be honest with.
- Look for the answers. I have heard people give up after just facing hard questions. It is good to question, but also essential to look for answers. You are likely to find that intelligent people have asked the same questions you have. And found answers.
- Remember that it is all about Jesus. Let that be the focus of your search.
- Be patient. You may struggle with some amount of doubt all your life. Seek what Eugene Peterson calls, “a long obedience in the same direction.”
It is okay if you are struggling with doubt. But before you announce on social media that you are no longer a Christian, consider these suggestions.