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  • Writer's pictureBenjie Shaw

Doubt Isn't a 4-Letter Word

Ever struggled with doubt? Doubt can be a lonely, isolating experience. Not only are you questioning some (maybe all?) of your beliefs, but you may not feel like you can talk to anyone about it without being put on the defensive. For those of us in ministry, confessing a doubt to the wrong person might mean potentially losing your job or the trust of those you lead. This pressure just adds to the isolating experience of doubt. Prior to COVID, I used to speak to groups about issues in college/young adult ministry. One of the items I attempted to hit pretty hard was the reality that young adults often doubted things they learned in their churches but didn't feel like their churches were places where they could ask real, substantive questions about their doubt. They felt like their faith communities expected them to accept teaching without question, and definitely without doubt. To doubt was to start a slippery slope to rejecting the faith.

My own doubts

I went through my own struggle with doubt last fall. And it was all I described above and more. My wife was the only person with whom I felt I could honestly share my doubt. I felt isolated. Everyone around me always spoke with conviction and certainty. I felt weird and "other" because I had doubts. I reached a crisis point where I had to decide if I could continue in my current ministry role. I wasn't even considering abandoning the faith. I felt like my questions were simply unwelcome. I tied myself in knots over several months. Thankfully, I gained some extra space to think, reflect, pray, journal, and seek God over a short getaway with my family.

Unanswered questions

I wish I could report that all of my doubts were resolved after that process. They weren't. I still carry some of them with me almost a year later.

But what did happen is that God calmed my heart over the anxiety I felt about my doubt. In His presence and in His Word I was reassured that I am, in fact, not "crazy." I was reassured that my particular doubts did not require any drastic changes in my vocation. God was even gracious enough to renew my vision for my work.

I was reminded that walking with Jesus doesn't mean being absolutely certain about every issue. Walking with Jesus means being absolutely settled on trusting in Jesus to save me from sin, walking in repentance from said sin, and seeking to be an ambassador of the Gospel to those around me.

My unanswered questions remind me to be humble because I don't have all the answers. My unanswered questions are a call to walk by faith and trust God to sustain me day-by-day. My unanswered questions are a call to worship a God that is deep and mysterious and around who are "clouds and thick darkness." (Deut 5:22)

I am grateful for a God and a faith that I can't completely wrap my head around.

Because if I, in my limited mind, could understand the depths of God, God wouldn't be all that great.

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