Use these 3 tips from the Bible when you are troubled by doubts in your faith life.
If you’re like most people, at one time or another you’ve struggled with doubt or insecurity in your faith. Maybe you're in a doubting time right now. And doubting can be a very uncomfortable position to be in! The Bible tells us, “One who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).
Remember these three truths when you're feeling doubtful.
1. Not understanding is different from not believing.
Doubt is normal. Yes, even the apostles, the ones hand-picked by Jesus to lead his church on earth, had moments of uncertainty. They had heard Christ speak the words that we know through the Bible and witnessed the “many other things” we are told were not written down (John 21:25). But when Christ appeared after the resurrection, “They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!’” (Luke 24:37-39).
Why did doubts rise in their minds? I think it’s because even though they’d known Jesus personally for years, God’s plan was bigger than they could grasp. They were certain of Jesus’ love, certain He was the Messiah, certain of His teachings—and yet the cross seemed to contradict everything!
There are times we become troubled because we aren’t expecting the cross God puts in our path. If we were the apostles, we could touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and feet and put our doubts to rest. Instead, we can simply pray: Father, You said, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). There are things I do not understand, but I love You anyway.
2. You don’t need to be afraid.
A lot of feelings fall under the category of doubt. There is uncertainty, like that of Peter, who wondered if his release from prison was really the hand of God at work or simply a dream (Acts 12:9-11). There is confusion, like what Mary and Joseph felt when their son inexplicably stayed behind in Jerusalem without telling them (Luke 2:48). And then there is fear, which sometimes arises because we forget that it’s healthy to wonder and question what we know.
My father, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, was a man of utmost confidence who was very comfortable with doubt. When I was a young girl he told me, “When you read Scripture you’ll start asking questions. You’ll notice things that don’t seem to make sense and stories you don’t understand. And as soon as you start to realize that the Bible doesn’t fit the shape of your faith, your faith can grow to fit the truth that’s in the Bible.” My dad knew God is big enough not to be threatened by our questions. He loved the prayer of the father of the mute boy, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24.) It’s a prayer Dad encouraged me to make my own.
3. Remember what you already know.
John jumped in recognition of Jesus as his Lord while they were both still in the womb (Luke 1:41). He baptized Jesus and heard the voice from heaven say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Yet as this deeply faithful prophet sat in prison listening to reports of Jesus, he wondered if Jesus was really the right person after all.
Calling two of his disciples “he sent them to the Lord to ask, ’Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” (Luke 7:19). Jesus didn’t answer John directly. He told the emissaries to, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Luke 7:22). And this rather odd response gives us a clue to how to deal with some kinds of doubt: We must return to what we already know.
So when the storms of doubt come, lean into the wind and believe. And remember, no matter what you’re feeling, Jesus is still in charge. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’” (Mark 4:39).