What Do I Do When Doubt Threatens My Faith?

What can you do when doubt threatens your faith? Are doubts and questions inevitably going to destroy your beliefs or is it possible for them to make your faith stronger?

Doubt feels like the opposite of faith. The two can’t possibly exist simultaneously. If you have faith in something, doesn’t that mean you have no doubts about it? We’ve been taught that doubt is bad and having faith should banish every whisper of it from our minds. If we do have any doubts, maybe it would just be best to ignore them.

But what if instead of being the opposite of faith, doubt was actually an integral part of it? What if, when doubts came, instead of ignoring them, we embraced the important questions they brought up?

Doubt has been a recurring topic in the church spheres lately. And I get it. Because I’m going through that a bit now too.

Struggles with Doubt

I’ve basically always believed in God. That He exists, that He’s good, that He loves me. All that stuff. It's easy to say those things when life is good and your faith feels firm. It’s easy to say God is working things out for good when things are going good. But being stuck in a season of struggle brings a lot of questions.

I’ve gone through struggles and hard times and hurts before and I’ve drawn close to God in those times and leaned on Him and He’s gotten me through.

I’m not sure why this time was different.

The past several months have been hard. There has been confusion, frustration, tears, hurt, anger. This season has been a difficult one. And there isn’t any end in sight. There have been so many prayers, crying out to God, with seemingly no answer.

And one day, with yet more bad news, I hit a breaking point. And boy, I thought I was mad before. I became absolutely livid. And all my anger was directed at God. The prayers had gone unanswered yet again and at this point I wasn’t even surprised.

I was angry and hurt. I wondered if this was what I got, was God really worth it? And then I told God I just couldn’t speak to Him right now.

Yes, I gave God the silent treatment.

Yes, I am aware of how completely ridiculous that is.

But with months upon months upon months of unanswered prayers, no evident purpose to this struggle, with no sign of God at work, no sign He cared or was even listening, doubt had started to grow in my mind.

How could God possibly be who He said He was if He was allowing this to happen? What if He was causing this to happen?

The silent treatment only lasted a few hours, but even when God and I were once again on speaking terms, I wouldn’t have said we were on good terms. For the first time in my life, my faith was really shaken.

A few weeks later, my husband and I went on vacation, and that is when the Lord was finally able to get my attention. We attended church on Sunday and there, in the midst of worship with fellow believers we’d never met before, God spoke to my heart and I was finally listening.

I had a sudden realization that it wasn’t God who was imperfect – it was my understanding of Him that was flawed.

Finding Truth in Doubts

God hadn’t changed. He was still exactly who He said He was – powerful, loving, good, faithful, wise. I realized that just because I didn’t understand what was happening, that doesn't mean that God is any different now than He was when life was smooth. Even if the worst happens, God is still good. Just because life wasn’t happening the way I wanted it to, didn’t mean God wasn’t in control. Just because bad things were happening to me, didn’t mean God was punishing me or reveling in my pain.

I know all these things. I’ve known them for a long time. I’ve known and trusted God for a long time. But this difficult time still brought significant doubts.

I’m thankful for my doubts though. They revealed so much truth. They revealed a painful truth about how I was believing wrong things about God. And they brought a beautiful truth of who God is. By asking and pursuing the questions that my doubts brought, I was able to go after the truth and see where false beliefs had taken root, dig them up, and replace them with what is real.

I was believing in my own ideas of God and had placed my trust in those ideas, rather than believing and trusting in who God really is. When my own wrong ideas were contradicted, that’s when everything started to fall apart. My ideas aren’t strong enough to sustain me in trials. But God is.

A Stronger Faith

I didn’t leave God or the faith during my times of doubt (though there was that moment of weakness where I nearly considered it). But a lot of people have and do lose faith when their faith can’t overcome their doubts.

And believe me, I’m not citing my strength of faith as the reason I never left God – far from it. Rather than being a testament of my faith, remaining in God is a testament of how close God is holding me and the infinite grace that He has for my weakness.

I am so dependent on God – I know that I would not be where I am, in every sense, if it weren’t for Him. Despite wanting to give up on God, I know that there’s nothing else out there for me.

Doubts are an inevitable part of life and faith. If the enemy is able to make you think that the things you believe in are ridiculous and untrue, he’s going to. But the doubts don’t need to destroy your faith. They can make it stronger.

When the doubts come and your thoughts are filled with questions, does it cause you to give up, or does it cause you to search for the truth?

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” – Luke 6:66-69 NIV

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