“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24
Throughout my relationship with God, I have been plagued by an uncomfortable tension between faith and doubt that exists within me. Experiencing the birth of my two children has left me with no doubt that God exists resulting in a deep faith. But then I read about the death child or hear how a child, who is unable to defend himself, falls prey to multiple causes of abuse. At that moment, doubt begins to trickle back into my mind as I wonder why God was silent at that moment that tragedy was occurring. Why didn’t He stop it?
Chances are that many of you struggle with this same tension between faith and doubt that I do. Life is going well then BOOM, your life falls apart. Your marriage is collapsing. You lose a spouse. You lose a child. You lose a friend. You lose your health. You have a dream for your life and that dream never comes to fruition. What do you do? What do you do when the faith that was your cornerstone suddenly seems, at best, a distant memory? It is in these moments that doubt begins to capture our thoughts and we start asking questions. Questions like, does God really love? Can I really trust God’s Word? Asking questions like this make us feel guilty and we try to suppress them. We hope they will go away, but too often they don’t. How do we respond?
One thing we can do is speak the words of the father in Mark’s gospel, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). In other words, I’m trying but I’m full of doubts. I’m not faithful, I am riddled with doubts, and I cannot muster the strength necessary to meet my moral and spiritual challenges, but help me. These words, “I believe; help my unbelief!” spoken by a desperate father capture perfectly the anxiety that many of us face in times of doubt. Doubt need not cripple our faith in God. Rather, doubt is an invitation to grow in our faith and understanding. I do believe, help my unbelief!
The truth is, we all have faith and doubt inside of us. The faithful and the doubters both know the discomfort of uncertainty. Because of this truth, I am going to spend the upcoming weeks talking about faith and doubt. My intent is not to solve the tension between faith and doubt, but to get us thinking about and to see that admitting to doubt is not a sign of spiritual weakness, but a sign of spiritual growing pains.
Happy New Year!