The classic Westerns of earlier days portrayed conflict between Cowboys and Indians, not Cowboys and Native Americans. Why? Because, as former President of Harvard University A. Lawrence Lowell stated, “When Christopher Columbus started sailing west he did not know where he was going, when he arrived he did not know where he was, and when he returned he did not know where he had been” (qtd in Brister 50).
Perhaps in your life journey, you relate to the famed voyage of 1492 across the oceans blue. Where am I going? Where am I? Where have I been? American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Canadian musician Tom Cochrane declared, “Life is a highway.”
Along your life highway, bi-way, or path, you experience doubt. Jesus told us that we will (not might) experience grief. Likewise, you will (not might) experience doubt. Thankfully, He informed us in advance; therefore, we do well to heed His alert and prepare for dealing with doubt. Once we prepare, we prove equipped, ready to:
1) Voice doubt rather than hide it.
My father, my sons, and I share the same middle name; it was also my grandfather’s first name, as it was his grandfather’s. That name also belonged to one of the Twelve. Thomas. I love his honesty. Right to the faces of those who saw Jesus – post-resurrection, in the flesh – Thomas declared, “I will not believe it.” He felt no compulsion to fake faith, even among the faithful. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that when Jesus answered Thomas’ doubt, the disciple did not scramble for excuse-laden words but rather spoke a declaration of convinced faith, “My Lord and my God!” Those were words of surrender and they were words of joy-filled thankfulness to Christ for answering his doubt. One of the most harmful things you can do with doubt is hide it.
William Shakespeare spoke well on the topic of life, including the doubts in life. He wrote, “Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise” (Hector, Act 2, Scene II, “Troilus and Cressida”).
2) Share doubt rather than cover it up.
A variety of difficult life experiences open the door to hopelessness. When you face those experiences you can relate to the words of Morrie Schwartz as stated in the book and production, Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom questions Morrie, one struggling with ALS, about his view of the biblical account of Job and his immense struggles. He responded, “I think God over did it!”
The great Baptist minister of last century, George W. Truett described the human condition as ones “bound together in the bundle of life” (qtd in Brister, 92).
When we share our doubts with others in honest fashion, we gain two benefits. First, we gain the “off my chest” release. We relieve the pressure of hidden doubt. Second, we gain community. In a vulnerable expression of doubt, we show others that they, too, can experience the “off my chest” release.
How often have you been sidelined by the thought,
“Am I the only one who struggled to believe that?” or
“Am I evil to question God on this?”
Love one another in such a way that those doubting will come to know the answer to both of those questions is, “No.”
Brister, C.W. Dealing with Doubt. Nashville: Broadman, 1970.
Shakespeare, William. “Troilus and Cressida.” The Literature Network. 3 Nov. 2010