Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV
This is Hailey’s story:
I was raised in the church. Started going before I was even born. I know every Bible story, and I’ve heard about a million sermons. But lately I’m starting to wonder. One of my teachers says we human beings need a “god” to make us feel secure and cared for. So we make one up.
I’m scared because I have to admit that this makes sense. How do I know whether somewhere way back, some well-meaning people didn’t make up God just so we’d feel better about ourselves? How do I know that God made us rather than that we made him?
Many people all over the world, like Hailey, struggle with doubt. Here are 6 practical tips to help you overcome doubt:
1. Embrace the fact that doubts aren’t wrong. Thinking through your faith can actually make it stronger. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A real God will stand up to questions because he is actually there. Matthew 28:17 tells us that after Jesus had been crucified, after he had been raised, and after he had spent 40 days with them all while having holes in his hands from the nail marks, some disciples still doubted. Even John the Baptist—the one of whom Jesus said that “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater” (Matthew 11:11) had doubts about Jesus right before he would be beheaded (Luke 7:18-22). Doubts are universal. They are a normal part of the Christian life.
2. It’s hard to trust a stranger. Getting to know the God revealed in Scripture is of highest importance when building trust with him. A study Bible is a great tool in helping you understand Scripture. Keeping a prayer journal will allow you to look back at how God has answered your prayers in the past.
3. Keep two faith metaphors in mind: battle and growth. The apostle Paul calls the Christian life “the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and James praises the testing of faith because it produces virtue (James 1:2-4). Faith isn’t static! It’s meant to be challenged and grow into something deeper and more powerful throughout your life.
4. Learn from others. The faith community is vital for overcoming doubt. Spend time with seasoned believers in your church because they have a track record of persevering in faith. Read authors like CS Lewis who were public about their struggles with doubt.
5. Apologetics can help. While there is a danger in fostering hasty overconfidence and even arrogance in practicing Apologetics, the study of the reasonableness of our faith has a long track record of helping with doubt. You don’t have to set aside rational thinking, scientific inquiry, or historical questions to be a Christian.
6. Just do good. Sometimes doubting Christians just need to take a break from navel-gazing and find virtuous things to do. Love the unlovely. Volunteer with underprivileged children. Bring joy to shut-ins. Give away your money. Active obedience—especially in the company of other followers of Jesus—is a great way to squelch doubt as the Holy Spirit works through you to bring Kingdom work into this world.
Which of these tips would you share with a friend who is struggling with doubts?