How to Handle Doubt
by Jacob Allee
I’m a natural skeptic and doubt comes incredibly easy to me. When I was 22 or so years old I came very close to losing my faith. I had been blogging about my study in the Bible for a year or two by that time when an atheist (and I mean the most aggressive kind) got on my blog and tore me to pieces. He raised objections I’d never heard, used words I didn’t know the meaning of and quickly batted down all my responses. I realized that day that I didn’t really know whether or not what I believed as a Christian was true. I came home to my wife and asked her in earnest “What if nothing we believe is really true?”
Well thankfully, by the grace of God, I was able to take a class at Moody Bible Institute soon after called “Apologetics.” I had never heard of apologetics before that and the first book I read in the course was Paul Little’s Know Why You Believe. Well it didn’t answer all my questions that I now had but it gave me a good starting place and hope that I could continue to believe and keep my mind at the same time. I began to consume apologetics books and lectures and when I found out that Luther Rice University had launched a B.A. in Religion and Apologetics I promptly transferred from Moody Bible Institute to LRU. From there I was able to really get onto solid ground with my faith once again.
There are some things that I wish I had known before (and during) the time I was struggling with doubt that I would like to share with you in case you ever find yourself in this place. While I hope the Lord may allow you not to go through the fire, so to speak, I hope that you will find this helpful if indeed you do or if even now you are in such a place.
1. Don’t freak out.
It’s very unnerving when you feel like the ground you are standing on is suddenly not as solid as you once thought. When I say that it was God’s grace that led me to some answers to my questions I do not overemphasize that point. I was panicking because I did not know where to turn. If it were not for the fact that my current course of studies led me to an apologetics class I don’t know where I would have landed.
All of that said, I would encourage you to remain calm and think clearly about a logical way to seek out answers to the questions that are causing you to doubt. Emotional responses don’t often lead us to clarity of mind. Accept where you are struggling and then seek out people and books that tackle those issues head on. See if there is an answer before you throw up your hands in despair and abandon what you have been believing.
2. Have humility and patience.
A little humility can help you here. Realize that the reason you cannot currently answer an objection or question in your mind may have less to do with there not being a good answer and more to do with your ignorance. You, me, everyone, all of us together are limited and finite human beings and there is no way we can master the entire realm of knowledge. You simply cannot know everything, you simply cannot know how to answer everything that comes your way and you do have a lot to learn. Finding answers involves admitting ignorance and beginning a process of seeking answers which may take time. Be willing to be a patient student as you look for answers. It is the height of arrogance to assume that if you can’t answer an objection there must not be a good answer. Don’t be that guy. Seek out answers patiently and persistently by talking to people smarter and/or more experienced than you.
3. Don’t go it alone.
One gigantic mistake on your part is to tell no one that you are doubting your faith. I know that it is scary and people might judge you, but if you keep it to yourself you are less likely to find satisfying answers and more likely to succumb to discouragement and walk away from the faith. It is true that not everyone will be understanding and not everyone will be helpful but you need to find a small group of godly, intelligent Christians who will walk through these things with you.
If you find that you are in a church that is not equipped to answer your questions or which does not meet you with understanding (which is unfortunately all too common) then try to reach out to someone outside of your church…