At some point during your faith walk, doubts will come. I’m convinced no one is immune to doubt.
“Maybe there is no God,” you may think. “Maybe this whole ‘faith thing’ is just a product of wishful thinking.”
Or maybe you don’t doubt your faith in God but think, “Maybe God doesn’t love me.” Or, “Maybe God doesn’t work miracles or speak to us as He did in the Bible.”
When doubt strikes, it seems to come, quite literally, out of no where. Doubt is never settling. In fact, it’s quite startling. But I, honestly, don’t believe doubt is the enemy that it appears to be. Doubt in and of itself is not sinful. And in fact, doubt can serve us well because, after all, a faith challenged––a faith questioned––is a stronger faith in the end.
The story of the gospel is a powerful one, one that holds the power to transform lives, bringing hope, joy, and love to sick and weary souls. But have you ever looked at this story and thought to yourself, “That’s a crazy story!” With worldly eyes, the gospel seems to be a fanciful fairytale, told to sooth the weak. Scripture even confirms this to be the view held by the world. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
God’s Word is power. Yet, I believe God is okay with us wrestling through His Word. Through His truths. I believe, in fact, that He wills us to wrestle with truth so that we might be strengthened in our belief. I believe every believer, at one point or another, experiences some level of doubt. In fact, many strong Christ followers who have made a significant impact in this world for the cause of Christ have experienced what you might call a faith crisis, in which all they believe comes into question.
For me, much of my wrestling happened when I was a baby Christian. I felt like Jacob wrestling with God as I struggled through doubt. I remember walking up to my pastor after services one Sunday. I asked him, “Is it normal that I feel like I’m on this constant roller coaster ride in my faith?” You see, I’d be doing fine––increasing in faith and growing in character––when out of no where, a thought would be planted, and I’d be hit by an incredible storm of doubt. I felt often like I was in a tailspin as a result of my doubts and would surly plummet to my spiritual death. It was beyond scary––something I feared above all things. I had lived many years without Jesus, and I didn’t want to go back––I didn’t want to lose Him. Yet, through all those storms, Jesus brought me to the other side, and because of those storms of doubt, my faith increased.
During this tumultuous season, God placed Billy Graham’s testimony in front of me. I had erroneously assumed that great men and women of faith never doubt, but then I read of a time when Billy, of all people––one of our generation’s greatest influencers for Christ––experienced what he called a faith crisis of his own as he began to doubt all that he believed. Billy wrote about his experience, saying,
Finally I went for a walk in the moonlit forest. I knelt down with my Bible on a tree stump in front of me and began praying. I don’t recall my exact words, but my prayer went something like this: “O Lord, there are many things in this book I don’t understand. There are many problems in it for which I have no solution. … But, Father, by faith I am going to accept this as Thy Word. From this moment on I am going to trust the Bible as the Word of God.”
When I got up from my knees, I sensed God’s presence in a way that I hadn’t felt for months. Not all my questions were answered, but I knew a major spiritual battle had been fought—and won. I never doubted the Bible’s divine inspiration again, and immediately my preaching took on a new confidence. This was, I believe, one reason why our Los Angeles meetings had to be extended from three weeks to eight.
I found comfort in knowing that even a man who spent his life spreading the good news of the gospel throughout the world could experience doubt. This happened in Billy’s life, incidentally, right before he led a crusade in L.A., resulting in Billy becoming a national figure overnight, which I believe is no coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences at all, however, because God is sovereign over all. But that’s a completely different subject altogether.
Have you ever noticed increased spiritual warfare right before something big (spiritually) happens? I’ve, certainly, noticed this pattern in my own life, and this pattern even seems to be confirmed by scripture. Matthew 4:1 tells us that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by Satan. Jesus, of course, didn’t fall to temptation, but if you’ll notice, Jesus’ wilderness experience occurred right before He began His ministry here on earth. Again, no coincidence. He was being strengthened and prepared for what was to come––for what He was called to do.
Doubt––as well as every trial we go through––is intended for our good. Satan certainly intends harm, but if we simply press into Jesus, we will be brought out on the other side victorious and strengthened for whatever God calls us to.
I love what Billy Graham says about how to deal with doubt. He says,
Don’t let anyone shake your confidence in the Bible as God’s Word. If you have questions about it, don’t use them as an excuse to turn your back on God. Instead, face your doubts and seek answers; you aren’t the first person to ask them. (Your local Christian bookstore can help you.) In addition, read the Bible for yourself with an open heart and mind. Ask God to show you if it truly is His Word—and He will.
Your life will never be the same once you trust the Bible as God’s Word. God will begin to use it to change your life.
Some sound, wise words. Thank you Billy!
So, the next time you find yourself in the storms of doubt, press in to Jesus, face your doubts, seeks answers from biblically sound sources, and choose to believe God’s Word over every other voice, including the one in your own head.
What do you do with your doubt? How do you process your doubt? Share in the comments. If I receive some good tips, I’ll be sure to post them in a future post. We’re all in this thing together, after all, right?
To read more about Billy’s faith crisis, check out the book, Billy: The Untold Story of a Young Billy Graham and the Test of Faith that Almost Changed Everything.