During my prayer time this morning, I read a quote from Flannery O’Connor that I want to share with you.
“I think that there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.”
Like many of you, I have experienced periods of incredible doubt in my life as I follow Jesus. Faith comes naturally for some folks, but I was not blessed with an easy faith. I have experienced many restless nights over my sixteen years of following Jesus. But over that time, I, like Flannery O’Connor, have come to see doubt as a good thing. Not an easy thing, but definitely a good thing. I had always been taught that doubt was a bad thing, something to be avoided at all costs. Doubt was the antithesis of faith. “Doubting Thomas” is not held up as a model of virtue in any of the kids Bible stories that I read to Miriam and Evie. I think that is a shame, because it doesn’t give doubt the credit that it deserves. The more I walk with other people through their journeys, the more deeply I understand that the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is indifference. When you struggle with faith, asking difficult questions of God, that is a good thing. Read the story of Jacob wrestling with God. Read the story of Moses doubting that God was really calling him. I am being more and more convinced that doubt is a Divine gift. That has certainly been the case in my life.
To my friends who have doubts about God, Jesus, and faith; that is ok. You are in good company. I believe that God is big enough for our questions, anxieties, and, yes, our doubts. But, I do have one piece of advice. Don’t carry that load alone. There are plenty of people just like you, people who are wrestling with deep questions about Jesus and how we can live well in the world. When you are willing to open up and be honest about where you are, beautiful things can happen. You might find your faith being deepened. Who knows, you might even find that God shows up where you least expect it, right in the middle of your doubt.
Grace and Peace,