Keeping the Faith

I’m a Christian and I Have Doubted God

I’m a Christian and I have doubted God.

Allow me to peel off the shiny veneer of my faith and reveal to you the raw reality that many a follower of Jesus has taken to their deathbed.

doubt-faith-copyChristians doubt.

Rarely will you hear such a thing articulated by the churched populace.

Because a Christian who reveals their doubts is like a salesman beginning his pitch with the product’s weaknesses.

We want you to see the wondrous things of faith first; overcoming addiction, freedom from unforgiveness, healing, joy, release from the chains of materialism, hope and the promise of eternity.

I’m sorry to burst the proverbial bubble of the good-little-Christian persona, but doubt is as much a part of believing as it is in any relationship treading the tangible soils of this earth.

Self doubt plagues the best of us, but it doesn’t diminish our value.

Doubt is present in the most robust marriages and friendships, but many will attest to overcoming spells of doubt in various forms.

“Do you love me?”

“Can we make this work?”

“Do you believe in me?”

“How can I trust you again?”

Thankfully, God expected us to doubt. He predicted it and the Bible is full of average Joes and Janes who doubted God. People who poked at Jesus’ wounds and said, “Did you really die and come back?”

I’m alluding to the infamous doubting figure of the Bible narrative of course: Thomas (a.k.a. “Doubting Thomas”).

Thomas was one of the fishermen who dropped everything to tag along with Jesus, soaking up all his teachings. For at least three years, Thomas was close enough to feel Jesus’ breath on his cheek. Jesus spoke directly to him, answering his questions, often before they were shaped in his mouth.

Yet he doubted.

After Jesus’ death on the cross, he revealed himself to his disciples – but Thomas was absent and so the others relayed to him, “We have seen the Lord!”

Thomas’ response earnt him his nickname.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

Don’t forget, this is the guy who spent three intensive years at Jesus’ side, listening to him foretelling his death and resurrection, over and over again. If anyone had reason to believe, it was Thomas.

Yet he doubted.

Far from punishing Thomas’ doubt, Jesus acknowledged it when, a week later, he walked into the room where the disciples, including Thomas, were hanging out.

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side,” Jesus said.

“Stop doubting and believe.” (verse 27)

A gobsmacked Thomas replied with the OMG equivalent of, “My Lord and my God!”

From the stories of people like Thomas we can glean that doubt is welcomed by God. Jesus invites us to inspect his wounds, to give him a chance to reveal what the blood of his sacrifice can do in our life.

Doubting is an action. It’s a place of inquiring, testing, consolidating. Doubting confirms or disproves our convictions.

As Voltaire once said, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

Sometimes I doubt.

Then, I look to the Word, to the evidence of God around me and my doubt makes me believe with more fervour.

Jesus left Thomas with this statement to chew over (verse 29), “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

“If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.”
Pope Francis

First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday June 1, 2015.