Faith isn't the same thing as certainty. It's the belief we carry despite our lack of total clarity. Unfortunately, that lack of clarity can sometimes create questions we can't easily answer. And many Christians wrestling with questions and doubts feel like they're disrespecting God.
Occasional struggles with doubt are entirely natural and can often precede giant steps in growth and maturity. Our doubts can stretch and challenge us, but if we're not careful, they can also shipwreck us. This is particularly true for certain personality types and temperaments. If you're more analytical by nature, doubts can become all-consuming.
If your doubts are consuming more and more of your headspace, here are some tips to regain some equilibrium.
1. Separate doubt from disbelief
There's a big difference between questioning what you believe and outright rejecting it. Too often, we have the idea that legitimate questions are simply the first step to abandoning our faith. Not only is that untrue, but it puts a lid on our growth.
2. Be patient with yourself
There's a reason that the idea of a journey is one of the most enduring metaphors for faith. We don't start at the finish line. We learn to trust Jesus incrementally, but that means that like muscles, our faith and hope have to be strained and tested in order to become stronger. When we believe that we should simply know and believe all the right things from the start, we get frustrated at ourselves when we struggle with ideas and concepts. But it can be part of the process.
3. Think of it as curiosity
We assign a lot of negativity to doubt, and sometimes it's helpful to reframe it. Wrestling with ideas and concepts isn't necessarily about doubt. It's about entertaining our inquisitiveness. Too often, we stifle questions when we should encourage them. Some of Christendom's most significant thinkers were people who weren't satisfied by run-of-the-mill answers. But if they had framed their questions as doubts, they might have abandoned them before they found the answers.
4. Weed out sin
There are times when our doubts aren't the product of growth or curiosity. Instead, they're the result of some sin that we refuse to repent of or confess. As we try and live out our faith with unexamined and unresolved sin problems, the cognitive dissonance can often manifest itself in confusion, a lack of trust, skepticism, and fear. We think we're struggling with doubt, but we're really responding to sin.
5. Learn to live with questions
While curiosity is essential, it's also critical that we recognize our understanding will always be limited. We shouldn't be afraid to ask big questions, but we can't assume that we'll get the answers we'll be happy with. The great thing about becoming comfortable with the mysteries of faith is that we can entertain our questions without forcing some kind of resolution on them—they become part of our journey.
Discover what the Bible says about doubt and faith
Dealing with doubt requires some care. You don't have to be afraid of doubt, but you want to be careful not to indulge your questions in an unhealthy way. The Bible is the best place to learn about faith and doubt, and if you’re interested in learning more, check out the post "10 Bible Verses about Faith and Doubt."