I’m a believer – a Christian. I was born into a Christian home with Christian parents. I’ve gone to church all my life. I’m a “lifer” and an insider.
I’m also a doubter – a questioner. And for many years I wrestle in silence and fear with all kinds of faith questions: How do I know that God exists? Can I be sure that Christianity is right and other religions are wrong? How can there be an all-loving and all-powerful God when there is so much evil in the world? Can I really trust that the Bible is true?
I never stopped believing but there were times when I was sure tempted to. Every once in a while I would feel safe enough to share my misgivings and as the years past I discovered a powerful truth –everyone has doubts even those you’d least expect.
Several years ago, just before I graduated from seminary, I had a conversation with my then eighty-year-old grandfather that changed how I thought about doubt.
Poppaw had called to congratulate me on my upcoming graduation. He asked about the kids, I asked if he had been fishing, he talked about getting the old boat in the river, and then the conversation took an unexpected turn. “Son (my grandfather called me son), I need to ask you a question.” He paused. “Can I trust the Bible? I mean does the Bible I read in English say the same thing as the original Bible says?”
My grandfather was one of the most faithful followers of Jesus I have ever known but a person’s faithfulness is not a sure-fire indication that they have overcome all their doubts about faith. That afternoon I gave away what knowledge I had about the trustworthiness of Bible and in the process learned two very important lessons about doubt and faith.
First, I learned that sharing our sincere doubts with another person allows us to receive–among other things love, acceptance, instruction, and validation. Doubting is simply admitting at I don’t have all the answers–it is agreeing with God that I am not Him.
Second, I learned that doubt is not the opposite of faith. We don’t have to irradiate all our doubts to have faith. Faith is simply persisting in belief as we wrestle with our doubts.