July 08, 2021

What do you do with doubt?

Everyone has had fleeting thoughts and questions about their faith, so what do you do with them?

Maybe doubt wasn’t welcomed in your church or family growing up. Have you ever wondered why? It’s usually because a lot of followers of Jesus only have one category for doubt. Doubt=bad. But when you lump all doubt together, you end up thinking that Jesus doesn’t want your questions, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In this episode, Whit George and Adam Bush discuss three categories of people and use them as a roadmap for what to do with our doubt. Check it out!

 Three categories of people

When you lump all doubts together, you end up thinking that Jesus doesn’t want your questions, or at least the Church doesn’t want your questions. What’s elevated in communities where doubt isn’t welcome is the idea of blind faith—don’t think about it, don’t ask questions, believe it. But there are different categories of doubt, and not all of them are bad.

The book of Proverbs lays out three categories of people that we can use in this conversation as a roadmap for what to do with our doubt:

  1. The Simple – the person who doesn’t know any better
  2. The Fool – the person who did know what they should do but they ignored it
  3. The Scoffer – the person who is actively resistant to what they should do

1. The simple has never really tested their beliefs

This category is not unique to the Christian community. In fact, any belief you have can fall into this category often because their beliefs are inherited and unexamined.

Here’s an example: You grew up believing one way. The community you were raised in never questioned it, and you were never introduced to another way of thinking. Then you leave for college or start a new job, and someone asks you a tough question that you’re not sure about. You’re introduced to another way of thinking.

While this “the simple” is an innocent category, it’s also a hazardous category to be in. When you have faith untested, you place your faith on top of a house of cards. Now, any circumstance, question, or relationship collapses your belief.

2. The fool knows but ignores

People in this category know they have doubts but ignore them. They may avoid the doubt because the questioning was unwelcomed in their community, or they’re worried about what someone would think, or worse, maybe they asked and were rejected for their questioning. So now, they avoid the questions altogether.

Often, to mask doubt and questioning, people in this category overcompensate by throwing themselves in the opposite direction of their questioning. As a result, they become judgemental and harmful to anyone who disagrees with them. They are now actively against anyone who has the same questioning. Why? Because they cannot face the question even if the question is coming from someone else.

It might sound harsh, but the Bible calls this person a fool because they delay the inevitable. When you run from your doubts, the questions will eventually catch up and push you to the next category.

3. The scoffer is actively against what they believed

Refusal to deal with your doubts will ultimately leave you in the scoffer category. Unresolved questioning of your faith will cause you to walk away from Jesus because you never stopped to face your questions with Him.

People in this category are actively against who they were. They are angry at themselves for what they used to believe and closed off to their past. If your questioning doesn’t lead you to Jesus, it will lead you away from Him. You will become closed off to the Gospel and often work actively against the church’s work and the hope of Jesus.

So, what do you do with your doubt?

The story of Thomas in the New Testament serves as a great example of what to do with your doubt. Thomas was a disciple of Jesus. He was with Jesus for His three years of ministry, saw the miracles, and Thomas has placed his faith in Jesus. But then, Jesus is crucified.

Crucifixion in Thomas’ day was viewed as God’s judgment. To Thomas, Jesus’ death was a crisis of faith. How could the Messiah be crucified? Caused to be judged by God. But then, Thomas’ friends see the resurrected Jesus and place their hands in His wounds. They’re able to confirm that this is the man they had followed and who died just three days earlier. So they tell Thomas about it, and he responds in John 20v25, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas gets a bad wrap for this response. In fact, most people call him “doubting Thomas.” But Thomas is not in the scoffer category; he’s just trying to make sense of everything that’s happening. So, Jesus appears to Him and allows Thomas to do what he’s asking in verse 25. What is Thomas’ response to Jesus showing up in his questioning? In verse 28, he says, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas’ questioning leads him to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is.

Dealing with doubts of faith?

God can handle your questioning. So, don’t you owe it to yourself, like Thomas, to pursue your questions? To ask, “who is this Jesus?” You have one life to pursue your questions; why wouldn’t you press into them? Take your questioning to the presence of Jesus in prayer, scripture reading, and a Christ pursuing community.

One of the most common questions we get about faith is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Whit and Adam talked about this in their episode, “If I follow Jesus, everything will be easy.” Check it out here.