When You're Troubled by Doubt

Written by Renée Miller

Because faith is a mystery, we will find ourselves from time to time experiencing doubt, and questioning the very things we have been taught are true. Some religious traditions try to keep doubt from ever reaching the surface, because there is a concern that it will not only lead people to question the institutional faith they have been given, but will also steer them into unhealthy and dangerous belief systems.

In truth, doubt is simply the other side of faith. One can't really exist without the other. They are twin movements in our understanding of God and ourselves. There is no need to fear doubt, because doubt actually helps you make sense of what you believe. It causes you to question, search, and look for answers. In fearlessly asking the questions and searching for truth (both about yourself and about the traditions that have been handed down to you), you actually grow up in your faith—you come to a new level of spiritual maturity.

Any faith that is not questioned is a weak faith, because it has no individual understanding and responsibility. True faith comes from doing what it takes to make sense of who God is in our life, and what God is calling us to do and to be in this world. The Bible, the historic faith, the institutional memory, is an aid for the development of faith, but without our own inner work, it remains as hollow as a cavern that splits a solid mountain in two.

When you feel doubtful, or find yourself questioning the truth of what you have been told, be gentle with yourself. Don't try to force yourself to believe what seems to be unreal to you. Try to keep your eyes open to see God in the moments and activities of each day, in the people you encounter, and in the silence of your own soul. Tell God about your struggle and ask for clarity.

Read a little Scripture from time to time and try to be open to new meanings, new understandings. Above all, remember that God loves you boundlessly, unconditionally, and eternally. Nothing is ever lost in God. Take the time you need to find your own faith. God's love is large enough to give you that space, and God will walk with you on the journey.

Tip to try:
It might be good for you to visit a church or other holy place that is completely different from the one in which you have participated, in order to give yourself an experience of God that is outside your familiar understanding. This will not lead you away from your traditional faith. Rather, it will help you become clearer about the truth of your own faith.

 Copyright ©2007 Renée Miller