“Do you just think there’s a God or do you know?” my pastor shouted. “I don’t THINK; I KNOW!” The preacher kept working up the crowd until almost every hand was in the air, agreeing that they had no doubts.”
Sitting at the back of the sanctuary, I didn’t stand and I didn’t raise my hand. Not because I was struggling with my faith, but because I didn’t think believing was so black and white, and I didn’t believe that honest doubt was anything to be ashamed of.
I was privileged to be raised by parents who loved God, in a home where seeking to serve and obey God was the heartbeat of everyday life. I came to faith as a teen, and lived out my faith wholeheartedly at church and school.
Then during my college freshman year I found myself wrestling with the question: Is there compelling evidence that God exists, or can the “proofs” people point to be better explained in other ways?
One afternoon in the prayer chapel on campus I spent hours pacing, thinking, praying, and struggling, pausing to sit only when others briefly entered the chapel. I wrestled with the evidence—creation’s intricate complexity, the life of Jesus, the witness of Scripture, personal faith experiences including answers to prayer. Were these really the fingerprints of God or could these all be better explained in other ways?
I pursued natural explanations as far as I could. I could imagine natural explanations for many faith experiences, some aspects of creation, much of Scripture. But I couldn’t get all the way there—or even very close to it. I realized it would take a huge leap of faith to attribute all the evidence I was aware of to “natural” causes. The most intellectually honest response to the evidence, I concluded, was to believe in a Creator who reveals himself through Scripture and Jesus and is involved in our lives, not because I could prove it, but because it took a much smaller leap of faith to believe in such a God that than to believe any alternative.
Jesus doesn’t share my former pastor’s contempt for doubt. When a man asked Jesus to heal his son, he confessed his doubt: “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 ESV). Jesus’ response? He healed the son. He told his disciples that even a mustard seed’s worth of faith was enough to move mountains (Matt. 17:20).
The faith of a child can be wonderful. But for that childish faith to become mature, it must be tested by honest, vigorous doubt and a resolve to follow the truth wherever it leads.
The more boldly we doubt, the more deeply we can believe.
- Have you ever been afraid to acknowledge your doubts to others? To yourself?
- Are you willing to honestly, vigorously pursue the truth, even if it leads to having to abandon things you have believed?