When Doubt Creeps In: Restoring and Working Towards Absolute Faith
Faith gets thrown around a lot. Yet, it is the lifeblood of the Christian Church. More importantly, perhaps, on a personal level, it is the glue that holds us together and will very often step in when things get shaken up or when our lives seem lost. Doubt is normal and it will creep in at some point or another in our lives. Doubt takes many forms, it comes as a well-articulated rebellious denial, or a quiet distrust of God, or even a sense of loneliness that takes on anger and creates distance, or it might even be a logical skepticism. In whatever way it comes, doubt can be healthy for your faith but it can also be detrimental and lead you to miss certain opportunities to deepen the relationship with God.
In Matthew 21; 21
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say to you, If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘ May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea’ it will happen.
This is a classic passage that outlines Jesus’ emphasis on faith. And yet, how do we describe this in a modern context. Faith is not carelessness or leaving things up to the wind. Faith must be followed and backed up by action. Faith is doing something fueled by the belief that God is with you and knows your destiny.
One of the most quoted Biblical quotes about the concept of faith is in Hebrews 11: 1-2:
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
This might still raise the question: Why? Or how are they so sure? The modern world will constantly put things in front of us that might make us doubt what we think should come rather naturally. The answer might rest somewhere in knowing that faith is a continuous fight. One does not simply declare, “ I believe,” and that’s the end of it. It’s normal to feel doubt, but one must have defenses against it or it can derail our paths.
The famous Christian writer C.S Lewis wrote extensively about the definition of faith and wrestled with a way to explain it to himself and fellow Christians. The writer had been an atheist at some point in his life, which is the epitome of doubt. Many people go through this in their life and renounce the faith or step away from it completely to give in to the creeping doubt. Lewis once wrote:
“Faith […] is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian, I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist, I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.”
He refers to faith as a virtue. Faith is not just an article of clothing we put on when we go to church. It is true that it can be a force for action that allows people to venture into new territory. Lewis seems to accept doubt as a part of the whole thing but expresses the importance of understanding faith so as not to be a ‘creature dithering to and fro.’ Lewis would write profoundly about doubt and faith in his book Mere Christianity. One of the things Lewis was known for in the Christian community was in being able to articulate that faith was not contrary to reason. For many modern Christians, popular culture or other areas of life will suggest that having faith is against reason. This is not so, as Lewis outlines above.
So how might we describe faith?
Faith is more of a committed loyalty to God and what he espouses. It is a devotion to something that is not tangible but that we know to be true. When it comes to real-life challenges, faith is using this committed loyalty as a way to stay true to higher loyalties and ethical positions in life.
Keep in mind that there are different kinds of doubt. One might be a logical or on a rational basis and the other would be an emotional or existential basis. Analyze your doubt and think about where it’s coming from, what’s prompting it, and this will give you a good defense.
What to do when doubt seeps into the cracks?
As your life goes through various stages, it is almost expected that there will be moments of doubt. How big that doubt gets and how much it interferes with your relationship to God is something we can wrestle with.
When you feel doubt find a quiet place and reflect. Talk to God about what bothers you. Actually articulating it will be useful because it will help you wrestle with something that is clear instead of an abstraction or raw emotion.
Read the word of God. You are likely to find a passage that speaks to you and your situation. There is wisdom in the Bible and there is peace.
Do not fear doubt, fight it. The Word of God and the wisdom of fellow Christians can be a great weapon, just as your own faith can be. If you are struggling with doubt or feeling that doubt has taken up too much of your life, call us. Faith Miracle Sanctuary is always open for people searching for God’s comfort.