Today I went out for coffee with a great friend and talked about doubt with him. We sat down at a nice local coffee house and sipped our okay coffee in a more-than-okay atmosphere. (I love the place because it’s a local business and feels like I’m sitting in someone’s living room. It might be a little hipster, too. I like that.)
But doubt: is it good or bad?
I think for a season it can be good.
Obviously, living a lifestyle of uncertainty, fear, and constant questioning is bad. But on the flip-side: always accepting whatever one reads or experiences without thinking about it can be just as damaging. Frankly, I’ve known too many people that go through life without questioning truth to really find it. And its heartbreaking. But Truth is a person whose name is Jesus, and Jesus wants a relationship, not mindless acceptance. When talking about following him, he says, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28). He wants us to think. He wants us to interact with him. He doesn’t want millions of people to sign a piece of paper saying they’ve accepted him and then return to their un-fulfilling lives. He wants them to realize that he’s accepted them and desires to converse with them.
A relationship goes both ways, so if we want to grow, we must ask so we will receive.
And if doubting consists of searching, then let’s search ’till we find the answer or trust The Answer because he is The Truth. Isn’t that awesome?
I recently read a short book by a Christian who went through a season of doubting. They were hurting a lot, and you could just tell by the sheer amount of confusion and unlimited questions that they were weary. I can relate to them in certain times of my life, but one thing stuck out.
After reading the online memoir, I hit the find button and searched for the word Jesus. It broke my heart when I saw the number 0.
Zero times did she mention Jesus, the founder of not only our Christian faith, but the world and everything in it.
I searched for the word “I” and it came up 637 times.
Isn’t that shocking? It shocked me. But then I realized: doubt, which has the potential to be like all sin, can be rooted in selfishness. When we pursue truth for our own comfort and benefit, we will be restless and confused. We will never know all the answers in this life because we are little and small. It means we’re weak and dependent on an independent God.
But that’s where love flourishes—in an oasis of selfless love. Selfless love that says “I don’t know everything, but I’m going to trust and pursue the One who does.”
This is why healthy doubt can be found when we search for Jesus and not ourselves and how we fit into this vast world.
I would say my own doubts have pushed me to be honest with myself and take my faith seriously. It gives me the courage to give an answer for the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15).
So next time you question something, ask this one question first:
Is my doubt rooted in selfishness or selflessness?
The answer to that question will determine if it’s worth further inquiring about or trusting a trustful God to pull you through.
He is faithful.