When’s the last time you doubted your faith?
Obviously doubt carries negative connotations in Christian circles. I don’t know anyone who wishes for doubts. Simple, confident faith like a child is what most of us strive for.
But all too often,
biblical faith + 21st century reality = difficult doubts
If you’re wrestling with doubts right now and struggling to know what to believe, I’m sorry. I know it’s hard. Rest assured you’re not the only one. (The good news is, doubts are not a new thing; they’re even mentioned in the Bible several times: see Matthew 28:16-17 and Jude 22, for example.)
That being said, my reading and experiences over the last few months have made me rethink my perspective on doubt.
What if doubt is not the opposite of, but rather a necessary component of, faith?
What if the Lord has good things in store for us that we will only experience during or after difficult periods of doubts?
What if doubt isn’t a sign of a weak faith, but rather evidence of an earnest and a growing faith?
It seems paradoxical, doubts being desirable or worthwhile. But consider these five unexpected benefits of doubts:
1: Evidence that your faith is maturing
An apathetic, disengaged, go-through-the-motions faith likely won’t encounter doubts, but that kind of faith won’t do you much good either. Doubts are like growing pains: they’re evidence that you’re maturing, learning, and questioning, which are all good things. The fact that you’re doubting doesn’t mean you’re broken—it means you’re not stagnant.
2: Raw closeness with your friends
If doubts are bothering you, then polite small talk will seem abundantly frustrating. You’ll find yourself wanting to make the most of time with friends and other believers. Ideally, you’ll begin directing conversation topics to more substantive things, which will help you bond with others and make your discussions more worthwhile.
3: Stronger desire to read about faith/spirituality
Why waste time mindlessly browsing social media or sports websites if your faith is on the line? Doubts help boost spiritual matters to the top of your priority list, which is probably where they should be anyway. It’s hard to enjoy trivial recreational things when you’re not 100% sure what you believe.
4: Greater confidence in truths
“Doubting Thomas” in John 20 wasn’t convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead. But then, when he saw Jesus for himself, he believed. Do you think his faith was stronger before or after that experience? Even though you may realize that things you once believed are not true after all, you’ll be able to stand so much more confidently on truths that do stand the test of skepticism. Doubts help us sift truths from falsehoods—and that’s a great thing.
5: Encouragement for others
When God brings you through a hard time, notice his provision along the way. Take note of things and resources that help you. Then you’ll be able to encourage others who are going through similar trials. So keep pressing forward. Keep asking those questions. Keep searching for answers. Don’t keep your story to yourself; share it with others. They’ll be encouraged to hear you honestly describe your journey.
One final word—by sharing those points above, I’m not trying to sugarcoat doubt and pretend it’s an awesome thing to experience. It’s painful, for sure. But, like I mentioned, it is also evidence that you are growing and developing, which is great.