I think that in my walk with God, dealing with doubts has been one of the most isolating struggles I've experienced. I feel very blessed that for most of my life, I didn't really struggle with doubt. I felt pretty secure in what I believed about God and the Christian faith. It wasn't until last year that I started into a season of doubt. When I first started struggling with it, it felt so foreign to me. I would have these doubting thoughts, "Can there really be a God?", "Does God really care about us humans or is he far off doing his own thing?", "Is God really good and how can that be with all of the bad in the world?", "How can I trust scripture, or churches, or anyone in their teaching?", etc. My doubting was something that I was ashamed to bring to community. I was afraid I was losing my faith and that I would also lose my Christian community, or that I would put doubts into their mind too. I felt alone in my struggle and it was the first struggle that I felt like I couldn't take to God, one because I was doubting that he was even there or listening and two because I was doubting his goodness if he was listening. The season of doubt was so dark because I realized if I've lost my faith, I have lost everything. Doubting my faith caused me to doubt my purpose and life's purpose. It has stolen my joy and my peace. As humans we want to be able to know it all, to figure it all out and sometimes that's just not possible. We've become so set on needing proof and needing every detail of logic before we believe in something.. But many times in scripture we're reminded that we cannot comprehend the greatness of God.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."
- Psalm 139:6
God's response to Job always blows my mind, sometimes I have to read this when I'm wanting to understand everything and have it all figured out:
"Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
Who is that that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man; I will question you,
and you shall answer me,
Where were you when I laid the Earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off it's dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were it's footings set,
or who laid it's cornerstone-
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds it's garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I find limits for it
and set it's doors and bars in place,
when I said, This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt?
Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn it's place,
that it might take the Earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
it's features stand out like those of a garment.
The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the Earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail
which I reserve for times of trouble
for days of war and battle?
What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the Earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Can you bind the changes of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion's belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or read the bear with it's cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God's dominion over the Earth?
Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, Here we are?
Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of Earth stick together?
Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the raven
when it's young cry out to God
and wander about of lack of food?"
- Job 38: 1-41
Woah.. this so clearly points to the greatness of God and the smallness of me!
If you been in a season where doubt is present in your thoughts, you are not alone. Here are a few things that have really helped me through:
1. The number one is praying for faith. When I feel faithless, I pray for faith. I ask God to restore my faith and take away my doubts. I pray for a great, strong faith.. the kind that can move mountains. You might not feel like praying, you might not feel like anyone is listening, but we have to remember that we can't always rely on how we feel because feelings change. I have seen God answer my prayers tremendously in this, by granting me more faith when I'm doubting. Also remember that it might not come right away. I had many months of doubting before seeing my faith restored. I still doubt way more often than I would like, but I'm praying that my faith will be forever increasing and that God can somehow use the doubting times for his glory.
2. Share your doubts! Keeping them to yourself will only isolate you more and keep you from working through them. I agree that it can be a scary topic to bring into the light, but I have shared my doubts with my most trusted companions. My fiancé has spent many many hours talking me through my doubts and talking me out of the dark and into the light and that has changed everything for me. My dad has also spent many talks discussing the faith with me and talking about the doubts that cloud my thoughts. Surrounding yourself with community and people that have faith will help to strengthen yours.
3. Fill your quiet times with the word. A lot of times I didn't feel like reading scripture when I was doubting, but when I would I would learn or be reminded of a lot of helpful things that could pull me out of my fears. One of the most helpful things that I would do is listen to an audio book in the car where my thoughts then to wander. I suggest Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis because it walks you through the basics of Christian faith and beliefs. Listening to that book in my spare time helped me think through my thoughts so much!
When you read scripture, certain passages and words will stick with you and you will recall them in times of need. You don't know how many times that I've whispered to myself "Stop doubting and believe!" (John 20:27 What Jesus said to Thomas)
Here are some quotes/scripture that have also been helpful to me:
* In order to gain and to keep the faith we need, it is essential that we read and study and ponder the scriptures.
- Thomas S. Monson
* Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith.
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf
* When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
- Psalm 94:19
* Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
- John 20:29
* Being strong is to love someone in silent, to radiate happiness when we are unhappy, to forgive someone who does not deserve forgiveness, to stay calm in moments of despair, to show joy when we don't feel it, to smile when you want to cry, to make someone happy when our own heart is broken, to be silent when we feel like screaming our anguish, to comfort when we need to be comforted, and to have faith when sometimes we no longer believe.
-Unknown, quote found on Pinterest
(Book pictured She Reads Truth)