Clouds enshrouded life for months on end. It was winter in Vancouver, and the painful loss of daylight further punctuated the questions that occupied my heart and mind.
Recently married and transplanted from the cocoon of a small Christian community to an eclectic West Coast city, I swirled in the transition and culture shock. Adding to the complexity, my husband and I found ourselves sinking in the depths of a mental health crisis. Battling anxiety, depression and insomnia, my husband’s internal life mirrored the winter outside.
As suffering mounted, what I believed to be true about God and life didn’t seem to line up with our experience. Doubts crept in.
“If God is good, why would He allow us to suffer so much?”
“Does God even care?”
I began to wonder whether I should even ask such accusatory questions. “Do my doubts offend God? Do they threaten my faith?”
A narrative within many Christian communities whispers that life with Jesus progresses in a victorious straight line.
We buy into a sneaky story that says once we start following Jesus, we should be perfect people who automatically have all the answers to life’s questions, and that the time for asking questions has passed. This isn’t the story the Bible tells us.
When we think about how God views our doubts, it’s tempting to take our cues from our fears, feelings or that fictional “straight line” narrative. But the best place to start is with God’s primary way of communicating with us: the Bible.
Scripture guides us on both sides of the picture. The New Testament Pharisees stand out as those who think they’ve got God all figured out. With the exception of Nicodemus, they never asked questions to understand. They asked questions to try to entrap Jesus.
For God’s people in the Bible, questions and doubts were part of the process of growing into maturity. God doesn’t turn His back on the questioners.
On the flip side, the Bible overflows with examples of far-from-perfect people who respond to God with honesty and humility.
For each of them, questions and doubts were part of the process of growing into maturity. And in each case, there’s a redemptive pattern in the way God responds to their questions. Not once do we see God turn His back on the questioner.
How, then, can we move forward when we don’t know what to do with our doubts?
Over the course of a few years, I slowly emerged from my “Vancouver winter.” God hadn’t miraculously removed my husband’s depression or anxiety. He hadn’t guaranteed that our life would play out like our dreams. But as I wrestled alongside my husband, bringing my doubts to God, reminding myself of His character, and seeking wisdom from people of strong faith, I realized that God hadn’t spurned any of my questions. Instead, He’d invited them, allowing the process of engaging my doubt to strengthen my faith and correct my misunderstandings.
I still ask questions, especially when life gets hard. When my daughter’s chronic illness confines her to bed, I ask, “How long, O Lord?”
The difference now is that I don’t wonder if God is threatened by my doubts or annoyed that suffering prompts me to ask questions. I see now that God cares about our uncertainties as much as He cares about our moments of courage, sorrow and joy.
God welcomes your doubts because, in His mysterious love, He wants the real you to know, love and honor the real Him. And that takes a lifetime of mutual pursuit, which will undoubtedly involve asking questions along the way.
If this article has helped you, consider signing up for our Lent devotional, a 41-day spiritual journey to help you grow in your confidence in God’s love and mercy.
If you have more questions, consider resources that explore the specific doubts or questions you may still have about Christianity:
As the mother of small children, I nursed a familiar feeling of dread each morning. I found time early in the morning to be alone with God. Somehow, my discipline became an exercise in making myself worthy of entering God’s presence. One day, God interrupted my efforts.
Christians tend to fear doubt because they believe doubt is a road-block to deep faith. The truth is that doubt often leads to faith.
God has hard-wired each of us to experience Him uniquely.
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