Doubt: What to do when it happens
What do I do if I am doubting the truth of Christianity?
Don’t be surprised by doubt
So far in the previous articles, we’ve looked at doubt, and seen that it is often pretty closely tied to an experience of contradiction (i.e. when what you experience is different to what you expected). We’ve thought about why we might even sometimes doubt things that are true. But what do we do when we doubt Christianity, or when someone we know is going through doubt?
Firstly, don't be surprised by your doubts. We don’t know everything! We are in an ‘in-between’ time where things are incomplete, and we can often be sinful or prideful which doesn’t help. So we shouldn’t be that surprised if we, or someone we know, runs into doubt.
Not only that, but even Jesus himself experienced contradiction of a very strong kind - he was about to face the wrath of God, even though he was God’s innocent Son (look at Mark 14:32-36). That doesn’t necessarily mean he doubted. But if even Jesus faced a big experience of contradiction, then you can bet many of us will. And seeing as doubt is so closely tied to experiencing contradiction, many of us will probably experience doubt.
Four ways to help you through doubt
1. Don’t be proud
Even though we shouldn’t be surprised if we experience doubt, we shouldn’t be proud of it either. Sometimes doubt is treated like it is the only way to be humble. It’s not. When you are sick you don’t say ‘hey I’m really glad I’m sick’. You say ‘how can I get better?’. Doubt is a bit like that, it is something we should be looking to work through, not wallow in. And sometimes we need to just be humble enough to really listen to the answers from Scripture too, remembering we don’t actually know everything.
2. Don’t be ashamed
We shouldn’t be too ashamed when we doubt, nor should we make people feel ashamed when they doubt. I know people who have told a Christian friend that they are going through doubt, and that friend has said ‘just get over it’. That is not helpful. We need to be able to talk to each other when we doubt. We need to be honest, so we can help each other through it. If you are going through doubt, talk to someone you trust about it. Sometimes they might not understand your doubt, but talking about it helps. And if they don’t understand, talk to someone else! Whatever you do, don’t go it alone – we are here to help each other.
And if someone talks to you about doubt, listen to them. Even if you don’t understand what they are going through, offer to try to help them find answers, to pray for them, to take their questions seriously, to help them talk to others who might be able to help. That kind of love can make a big difference to someone who is doubting, and can remind them that Christians aren’t afraid to face tough questions together. ‘Be merciful to those who doubt’ (Jude 22).
3. Don’t be scared (and get answers to your questions)
Look into your questions! There are lots of books out there to help with your big questions. Sometimes doubt has a big hold on us simply because we haven’t done the hard work of thinking through our faith. Christianity has been around for 2,000 years now, so whatever your questions are, chances are you aren’t the first person to worry about them. Don’t be scared - if Christianity is true it can stand up to the questions, and it has done that for a long time now. And keep reading your Bible – it actually does help, even when sometimes it might not feel like it.
4. Don’t forget the most important things
The Apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 13:12: ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’
We only see things in a blurry way now, and we only see in part. But it won’t be like this forever – the day will come when we will know fully. But while we are waiting, God knows us. Remember who started your relationship with God – it was him, not you. The fact that God knows us is even more important than whether we feel like we know him at any particular point in time.
When you are in the deepest place of doubt, it can feel like everything is dark all around you. Maybe that’s because your eyes have become shut, but the light of God’s love in Jesus is actually still shining all around you. So ask him to help you open your eyes again, and remember: he always knows you, even when you are not sure if you know him.
Need help with your doubts?
If you are experiencing doubts, a great place to start is by talking to someone about it. If you don't have anyone you can speak to, or want to ask us some extra questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find someone who can help you. Let us know what questions you have, and don't be afraid to be honest - we're all doubters at times!