5 Ways to Deal with Emotional Doubt
By Carey Bryant
I recently bumped into my old nemesis again.
My family has never really experienced death that much. Over the past two months, however, I have had two family members pass away. This year has been as hard of a time as I can remember. I know that I am experiencing a mix of grief and emotional doubt, but it’s sometimes hard to draw a line between the two.
According to Gary Habermas, emotional doubt is where “the factual data is judged by how one feels about it, rather than on its own merits. Thus, instead of coming to grips with the strength of the evidence, the one experiencing the quandary often responds by emoting about it.” This differs from intellectual doubt, which is where a person has reservations about the truthfulness of Christianity. Many of the resources here at A Clear Lens are for those struggling with intellectual doubt. But what are some ways that we can deal with emotional doubt?
I want to share 5 practices that have helped me deal with this in the past and that are helping me get through this season now. I pray that they would also be useful to you in your journey.
1. Focus On Your Devotional Life (Scripture and Prayer).
When experiencing emotional doubt, we should first run to Scripture and prayer. One of the most encouraging things to me about the Bible is that it doesn’t shy away from grief, doubt, pain, and open questioning. When you look at the Psalms, for example, you see people honestly struggling with their doubts:
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1).
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:3).
I imagine if you asked these writers if they still believed in God during these times, they would answer “Yes.” But their circumstances and their feelings may have gotten the best of them. We can be encouraged that even the biblical writers struggled with emotional doubts at times.
Reading Scripture is only step one. The second step is to communicate your doubts to God. When God feels distant, talk to Him about it. Don’t run away from God when things aren’t going well. He can handle your questions and your pain.
2. Share Your Doubts With Others.
No Christian is an island. Maybe you need to share your emotional doubt with some family members. Maybe you need to have a talk with a trusted friend or your pastor. Keeping these things inside is the worst thing you could do. It is amazing how the simple act of sharing your emotions can lift you up.
If you are like me, I tend to quarantine my emotional doubts for as long as possible. Like a ticking time bomb, it is only a matter of time before I explode. Now, I am learning to deal with my emotional doubts as soon as they come by letting them out into the light. Sharing your doubts with others may be hard at first, but it will pay off in the end…
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