How do you handle doubt? We who are prone to doubting can doubt just about anything. We can doubt God – his existence, his goodness, his concern for us. We can doubt ourselves – our value, our purpose in life, our relationships. Some of our doubts are about facts – details of reality. Other doubts are about our interpretations of events and the people around us. Still other doubts are about the proper course of action in a situation.
For some of us, doubting is a part of our personality. It’s our native language. Others of us doubt because Western culture has taught us to over the past 300 years or so.
When I think about the things I know for sure, many are trivial. I don’t think to doubt them because they are constants in my experience. Of all the times I’ve driven to work since I’ve lived here, I have never found the church buildings to have wandered off.
Some of the things I know for sure are immensely important. I know my family loves me. Knowing also that I’m not always lovable, I’ve been given reasons over and over again why I shouldn’t doubt their love.
When it comes to the Christian faith, Jesus is my anchor. From my first semester in college I have been confronted with scholarship that sought to marginalize Jesus or to put him in an inadequate category: Good Teacher, Moralist, Cynic, Revolutionary. After years of study I still find the traditional picture of Jesus – God incarnate, demonstrating God’s ways in his life and teaching, bearing our sins on the cross, rising again on the third day – to not merely be the most satisfying, but the most intellectually satisfying picture. Can I answer all the questions? Not at all. But I’m not afraid of the questions and can answer them to my own satisfaction.
Part of my job flows directly from my interaction – intellectual and personal – with Jesus. I’m more comfortable with those parts. Other parts, however, take me far away from my anchor – into uncharted (or, more accurately, confusingly charted) waters. Leadership, in particular, comes to mind. I know leadership doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve read tons of books on the subject. I’ve found theories and practices that make good sense. But they don’t feel right or conflict with equally sensible theories. So I’m left not knowing what to do.
How’s your doubt life? Have you discovered yet that shutting them out or ignoring them doesn’t work? Have been overwhelmed by them? I’ll leave you with just one word of advice. Share your doubts with God – even if you doubt God. See what happens.