Faith and Doubt

There are many examples of tremendous faith in the Bible such as Noah, Abraham, Rahab, Job, Mary, Mary’s husband Joseph, the men that lowered the paralytic on the mat through the roof of the house, the centurion at Jesus’ crucifixion, the thief being crucified next to Jesus, etc. I find these examples very humbling and very difficult to measure up to.

However, the Bible also provides many examples of doubts and less than perfect faith such as Moses, Peter not excited about getting out of the boat, Thomas the apostle and many of the Psalms (see a good juxtaposition of doubt and faith in Psalm 22 compared to Psalm 23). One of my favorites is Matthew 28:17 when the disciples go to Galilee and see Jesus after his resurrection. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And these guys had just spent 3 years 24/7 with Jesus and witnessed an untold number of miracles!

I find this very comforting. I think this shows that God knows we don’t have perfect faith. God has honored and used regular, everyday sinners like me in his plan and purpose. After all, it’s not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

One of my favorite Christian authors is Philip Yancey. He generally deals very honestly, compassionately and thoughtfully with doubts and imperfect faith in most of his books. Below is an excerpt from a Philip Yancy interview where he is asked “what made you eventually believe in God?”

"I admit that I’m at times a reluctant Christian, plagued by doubts and still recovering from bad church encounters. I’m fully aware of all the reasons not to believe. So then, why do I believe? In my own days of skepticism, I wanted a dramatic interruption from above. I wanted proof of an unseen reality, one that could somehow be verified. However in my days of faith, such supernatural irruptions seem far less important, because I find the materialistic explanations of life inadequate to explain reality. I’ve learned to attend to fainter contacts between the seen and unseen worlds. I sense in romantic love something insufficiently explained by mere biochemical attraction. I sense in beauty and in nature marks of a genius creator for which the natural response is worship. I sense in desire, including sexual desire, marks of a holy yearning for connection. I sense in pain and suffering a terrible disruption that omnipotent love surely cannot abide forever. I sense in compassion, generosity, justice, and forgiveness a quality of grace that speaks to me of another world, especially when I visit places, like Russia, marred by their absence. I sense in Jesus a person who lived those qualities so consistently that the world couldn’t tolerate him and had to silence and dispose of him. I could go on and on. In short, I believe not so much because the invisible world impinges on this one but because the visible world hints, in the ways that move me most, at a lack of completion."

Brad Gauen

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