Doubt is a part of faith. We have no absolute proof that there is a God. While there is solid historical evidence for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it cannot be proven. As Paul wrote, “we live by faith not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7).
Faith is a necessary part of any belief system, religious or scientific. There is no proof that this universe got here all by itself, as some scientists would have us believe. In fact, it takes a great deal of faith to believe in that. Even scientists who have no religious faith at all, if they are honest, will express their doubts about the sufficiency of their explanations. Everyone must begin with a whole host of unproven presuppositions, so no one can prove the truth of their answers to life’s biggest questions. Paul’s statement that we ‘live by faith and not by sight’ applies to everyone. Christians Frank Turek and Norman Geisler expressed this in the title of a book they wrote: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
The way for a Christian to deal with a troubled faith is not by dwelling on the faith or the doubts, as if by some act of the will we can muster up more faith. Jesus doesn’t tell you to look at your faith. Jesus tells you to look to him, and to simply do what he tells you to do; and then faith will take care of itself.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand.” This is the teaching of the New Testament. In John 7:17 Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, then he will find out if my teachings come from God.” Do what I say, Jesus says, and then you will find out that it is true. I Timothy 3:13 says that those who have served well will gain great assurance. You do not gain great confidence and assurance and faith by thinking about it, but by acting upon it, by obeying and serving. And Paul wrote to Philemon (verse six) that he will gain in his understanding of Christ as he is “active in sharing his faith.” In all of these verses, the focus is on obedience; and then, faith is strengthened.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a Lutheran pastor in Nazi Germany, had reason to doubt the goodness of God. He was arrested for being involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler and was sentenced to death. He spent two years in prison before his execution, isolated from family and friends. His faith was severely tested, yet he endured, doing what he could to minister to others who were also in the prison. By still serving the God he was having doubts about, his faith survived. He once wrote in a letter from prison, “If you are having trouble with your faith, then obey God, and faith will come.” The more we act on our faith, the more faith will be given. Our beliefs affect our actions, but so also do our actions affect our beliefs.
I need not exert myself and try to force myself to believe or try to chase the doubts out of my heart. That is all quite useless. I need only to tell Jesus how weak my faith is. I just have to pray that Jesus will come into my heart, and then he will then give me what I need.
–Ole Hallesby (1879-1961), Norwegian pastor and author
The strength of your faith is not measured by the absence of doubt, but by the faithfulness of your life in the face of doubt.
II Corinthians 5:7 — For we live by faith, not by sight.
John 7:17 — (Jesus said), “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
I Timothy 3:13 — Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
O Lord, I desire, in some measure, to understand your truth, which my heart believes and loves. I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that unless I believe, I shall never understand.