Have you ever been crippled by doubt? Has doubt stolen your sleep, your passion, and your joy, leaving you desperate?
Doubt can tear apart our thoughts with uncertainty. It can make us question our best source of comfort. The result is that we separate ourselves from God and others, choosing to suffer alone.
I too have struggled with doubt. In my sophomore year of high school, I started to doubt Christianity. Although I knew how to find answers, fear stopped me from honestly seeking them. I feared that my doubt meant I was no longer a Christian. For months, I endured poisonous thoughts before finally reasoning out the existence of God.
What is doubt?
There are actually two kinds of doubt in the Bible. The first kind of doubt is skepticism. The Bereans had this type of doubt in Acts 17:11- “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The Bereans wanted to confirm that Paul’s words were true. Having skeptical doubt means that we are uncertain of the truth and search to find it.
The other type of doubt is often called “unbelief” in Scripture. Unbelief is a refusal to trust God and his promises. James illustrates the effects of unbelief in James 1:5-8: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” Unlike skepticism, unbelief is not satisfied by finding the truth. It refuses to trust God regardless of the truth.
Skeptical doubt is often healthy. The Bereans were commended for their eagerness to confirm the truth. If your doubt is skeptical doubt, don’t be afraid to search for the truth while continuing to believe and trust in God.
Unbelief, however, is a sin. The good news is that unbelief is a choice, and so is faith. In Mark 9, Jesus points out a man’s unbelief. The man immediately exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” This should be our response as well. With God’s help, we can choose to trust God despite our doubts.
What keeps us from trusting God with our doubts?
The answer is fear. Fear prevented me from resolving my doubts and locked me in an unhealthy state. As with unbelief, the Bible tells us to bring our fears to God and entrust them to him.
Doubt, when it is not unbelieving or fearful, can be healthy. It forces us to examine our beliefs, discard false beliefs and base our remaining beliefs on truth. By facing our doubts, we can grow stronger in our faith. But to do this, we must trust God with our doubts and handle them in faith instead of fear.
How do we handle doubt?
We must seek the truth while continuing to trust God. If our doubt is tainted with unbelief or fear, we need to choose right away to trust God and walk in faith.
One practical way you can trust God is to pray. When I doubted, I prayed reluctantly, because prayer reminded me of my fears. My prayers ended in desperation because I did not believe that God heard me. This is not how God wants us to pray. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Don’t pray in fear. Instead, thank God, bring him your requests, and choose to trust that he hears you.
Another practical way to trust God is to read the Bible. Scripture actively fights our fear and unbelief. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Scripture reveals our assumptions and shows us the irrationality of our fear.
Scripture also comforts us. When I feared that God had rejected me because of my doubts, Isaiah 43:1 directly addressed my fear: “But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” This verse reminded me of God’s love and comforted me when little else could.
Put it in action.
If you have chosen to trust God with your doubts, resolving them is simple. Learn God’s claims about what you are doubting. Then, like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, confirm his words. Research the infallibility of Scripture. Learn the science that confirms the claims of the Bible. Seek answers. And when you have found them, accept them in faith.
Doubt fills us with uncertainty and may cause us to withdraw from God and others. Unbelief and fear is the root of this distress. So to deal with doubt healthily, we must choose to trust God in our doubts.
This is impossible for us to do alone- we need God’s help to make this choice. The unbelieving man in Mark 9 repented with, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” If you are struggling to trust God, cry out to him and ask him for his supernatural help.
If you do choose to trust God with your doubts, everything changes. You no longer waver but confidently seek truth. Your faith no longer weakens but grows. Trusting God with our doubts is the key to letting doubt truly make us stronger.
Sarah Howell is an eighteen-year-old, homeschooled deep thinker. She loves enjoying and creating beauty of all forms. She focuses on writing speculative fiction but also writes articles and blog posts. Throughout her teen years, Sarah has struggled with doubt and with trusting God with her life and her trials. This has taught her that struggling doesn’t make her any less worthy of love- “wilted is not worthless.” Her goal is to encourage other young women in the same struggles.