Weekly Bulletin

Four Things to do when Doubts Arise

Wes McAdams

1. Pray

When you have doubts about God, one of the last things you feel like doing is praying; but it’s actually the first thing you should do. Maybe doubts arise because we have been neglecting prayer. Pray prayers of supplication. Ask God to help you. Pray what the father prayed in Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Pray prayers of adoration. Spend some time praying about God’s beauty and majesty (Psalm 145). Pray prayers of confession. There may be sin lurking in our lives or hearts that we haven’t even admitted to ourselves yet. Spend time confessing your sins and surrendering your rebellious heart to God. Pray prayers of intercession. Pray for someone else. When we pray for others, we are drawn out of ourselves. Pray prayers of thanksgiving. Don’t underestimate how much gratitude can reorient your heart toward God (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

2. Challenge the Assumptions of Your Doubts

Every doubt is based on assumption. If a boy says, “I would like to ask that girl out on a date, but I doubt she would go out with me,” his doubt is based on certain assumptions. Maybe his assumptions are true, and maybe they are not. Assumptions need to be identified and challenged. When you think to yourself, “I’m losing my faith; I just don’t know if I believe anymore,” then you need to identify the assumptions that are supporting your doubts and challenge those assumptions. Here is one example:

“I thought if I lived my life the way I was supposed to live, I would be blessed by God. But everything in my life is falling apart. Maybe God isn’t even real.”

The assumption that a person won’t have to suffer if he or she is living a Christian life is common, but it’s NOT based on actual Christian doctrine. Assumptions like these need to be identified and challenged. 

3. Engage with the Gospel on an Intellectual and Emotional Level

When first-century Christians began to have doubts or waver in their faith, the apostles pointed them back to the central facts of the Good News message. Read passages like Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, or 1 John 1:1-4. All of these books were written to Christians, struggling in their faith.The gospel is not only true historically and factually, it also answers the deepest longings, questions, and fears of our heart, “Does God really love me? Does He know what I’m going through? Could He really forgive me for the things I’ve done? What is my purpose on earth?” As C.S. Lewis famously said:

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

4. Surround Yourself with Jesus’ People

When you’re struggling with your faith, you might be tempted to gradually withdraw from the church. It might be guilt, fear, or even anger. Sadly, it might be the behavior of other Christians that is a source of some of your doubts. But as much as I understand those feelings, withdrawing from the church is one of the worst things you can do. You need to be with Christians in whom you can see the fruit of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is unspeakable power to spiritually refresh you when you are with people who are full of God’s Spirit. Consider what the Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 10:24-25. When you are with a group of people who are stirred up to love and good works and who meet together to encourage each other, your wavering faith will be strengthened.

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