The Soil of Doubt
I had a friend ask me the other day to recommend some inspiring and encouraging Bible passages for a friend of theirs who is in a difficult place of doubt and questioning.
As I combed through my Bible, looking over the many underlined verses, I came across a few that spoke about doubt in some ways but nothing seemed to quite fit the situation.
But in the process of searching, I realized something -- isn’t the entire message of Jesus about how God not only overcomes our doubts but also turns them into something beautiful? Let me explain…
The disciples were a group of rag-tag bunch of tax collectors and fisherman who probably doubted that their lives would ever amount to anything. And yet they were an integral part of God’s mission.
Originally, the Apostle Paul so vigorously doubted the Christian message that he persecuted anyone who believed it. And yet God used him to start churches throughout the world.
During Jesus’ years of ministry he encountered and healed those who were sick or hungry or outcast-- all people who doubted that their life could ever be changed.
And then, through the death and resurrection of Jesus' we hear a clear message from God: that we should never have a reason to doubt God’s love for humankind.
“Doubt is not the opposite of faith but rather an aspect of it.” - Paul Tillich
One of my favorite quotes comes is from the famous theologian Paul Tillich who once wrote, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith but rather an aspect of it.” In our world where we strive to know and prove everything without “a shadow of a doubt”, the religious concept of faith can become blurred. We seem to forget that the very word “faith” implies that we are believing without full confidence-- that we are putting our faith in something not fully known. If we had absolutely no doubts then what would we take on faith?
As troubling as our doubts can be, there is hope, because God has always worked with individuals who doubt and so that means God will surely work with our doubts as well. In fact, I believe that we should stop seeing our doubts as a way we have fallen short, but rather see them as an indication of where God will work in us next.
After all, it’s within our doubts that God plants the seeds of faith. As Paul Tillich also said, "The old faith must die, eaten away by doubts, but only so that a new and deeper faith may be born."
May we learn to live with the tension of faith and doubt, and rejoice on the day when Jesus creates something even more beautiful from the soil of our doubts. Amen.