How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
– Psalm 13:1-4
Just the other day I was in the car with my girlfriend Sarah driving as she was speeding down a street to get to MacDonald’s. I said “I’m not so sure of my salvation that if we were to die right now, I’d be in Heaven. Please slow down.” Immediately she slowed down and then asked me, “you’re not sure of your salvation?” “No” I replied. For some reason, Sarah could not fathom my doubt, and it hasn’t been the only time. Often, especially these days, I doubt my Christianity, my salvation, and even God. For some Christians like Sarah, this is hard to imagine. She’s had such tangible experiences with God to doubt His existence or to question His love for you is like doubting whether gravity or air exists. However, for me, I can’t even begin to imagine a life filled with such confidence. Just think of it, a life where no matter the situation you trust God with such unwavering faith that you never doubt His love for you let alone His existence. What bliss!
I envy people like that. I wish I just knew that everything I read and understood in Scripture is true without a shadow of a doubt. But I just can’t. I don’t know if it’s my sinful nature, Satan, whether I’m a product of post-modernism. I’m afraid. I’m so scared that I’ll believe the wrong things and die on the wrong side of whatever ends up being true. I’m always questioning myself and my doctrine. I’m continually wondering if what I think is right, is true. Perhaps I should attempt to lay aside my doubt and just swallow everything I’ve been taught hook, line, and sinker. The very thought makes me cringe – sick in fact! Yet the idea of living in doubt is just as crippling.
There are small comforts. I see real people in the Bible live with doubt. David, in his darkest moments, seems to question if God will ever act (story of my life). Peter doubted Jesus when asked to walk on water (Matt 14:30-31). Thomas doubted and needed to touch the risen Lord (John 20:24-29). Sure doubt is not something great, but it’s very human. I just want to say doubting is entirely normal. It’s expected. Uncertainty is something to live by and to fight against. The human experience is the constant battle between assurance and the doubt you experience from day-to-day. Living in the tension between these two experiences is very, very human. You are not the only one. Almost everyone wrestles with questions and ideas they’ve held to their entire lives. It’s good to test them and to hold fast to that which proves good. Embrace the journey.
I wonder if Jesus ever doubted anything? Immediately I want to say no. Maybe He didn’t. Yet when I read about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I wonder if a certain sense of uncertainty was trying to overcome Him. The Scriptures say that His soul was filled with grief and that He asked the Father if He would take away the impending cup (the coming atonement). Yes, Jesus immediately said “not my will but yours,” but why even express that unless doubt was crouching at the door wanting to rule over Him right? To me, this makes Jesus all the more human, and all the more relatable without taking away His Godly nature.
What’s my point? I dunno. Perhaps I want to remove the stigma that surrounds doubt. I want to be able to explore my doubts without feeling like I have to have it all together to be a good Christian while at the same time, I want to strive for assurance. We all just need a little help, I think.
“Belief in God does not exempt us from feelings of abandonment by God. Praising God does not inoculate us from doubts about God.”
– Eugene Peterson
“I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think, when a man says, “I never doubt,” it is quite time for us to doubt him.”
– Charles Spurgeon
“I think the trouble with me is lack of faith… often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address.”
– C.S. Lewis