Hello darkness, my old friend.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
The Sound of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel
The depressing song lyric above (made popular by sardonic memes and Arrested Development) reminds me of my relationship with doubt. I’ve gone through several seasons of spiritual doubt in my life, and I suspect that I will go through many more. But doubt is no longer an anxiety-inducing darkness for me; it is more like a bittersweet friendship.
Doubt is often considered a scandalous topic in church culture. It is called the enemy of faith; a “tool of Satan” designed to “spiritually attack” followers of Christ in some sort of cosmic war. But my experiences (and those of others) have led me to believe otherwise. More and more Christians are learning that doubt is a necessary journey for many people, and it can even be a way to get closer to God.
Christians who ask questions such as “does God exist?”, “why should I trust the Bible?”, and “do I really have a relationship with God?” are not weak or immature. Rather, I would argue that those who openly ask questions are those who actually care about the answers, even at the risk of changing their worldview.
An unapologetic pursuit of truth is more noble than a received cultural faith.
When the disciples first cast their nets aside and followed Jesus, they had little to no concept of the Messiah, biblical inspiration, or substitutionary atonement, but instead they simply followed Jesus, trusting openly wherever He led them (except when they denied knowing Him, fled after His death, and doubted His resurrection). But despite their lack of faith, they were still used to further Jesus’ message of redemption.
Faith is not a light we turn on once that shines brightly for the rest of our lives. It is a journey, where we experience God through people, the Bible, spiritual practice, scholarship, and the ups and downs of our experiences.
We don’t have to stress out about having “the right answers.” We can ask God to help our unbelief. We can be angry at God. The Psalms are littered with the words of people crying out to God, asking for answers to life’s big questions or for righteousness in a world of suffering.
Relationships are not built on
blind devotion and unwavering certainty,
but on trust, dialogue, emotion, and time.
God knows our weaknesses, and He created us to think for ourselves. He can handle our questions, our fears, and our frustrations. He is bigger than the boxes we so frequently place Him in.
The following lyrics from Gungor’s “Magic” beautifully illustrate the mystery that is involved in having a relationship with God: