This may prove to be a very difficult article to write. It’s about doubt, and my personal experience struggling with it. As a disclaimer, I’m not completely free of doubt, but I feel like I’ve passed through the metaphorical “valley of the shadow of death,” and I really feel like God has drawn me out and nearer to Him.
I’m an inquisitive person. At the beginning of my senior year of high school, I started to accumulate questions about Christianity. Some of the questions came from conversations with non believing friends and some came from my own experiences. At one point I decided to create a list of questions about Christianity. I created a list, about two pages long, about areas in Christianity that I felt contradicted each other, and I set off on my journey to answer them. The first place I went was to my youth pastor. We walked around downtown for a full hour, but we never got past the first question! Over time, my list started to become a vague symbol of my inability to fully understand Christianity.
After a church retreat that winter, I wrote this: “Can we really rely on personal experience when everyone’s experiences lead them to different conclusions? If we can’t rely on experiences, what can we rely on? The Word of God? I’ve read it! And I have so many questions. And when I find myself questioning something, I find myself going to the sources I trust. Is that right? Is that wrong? How can I know truth if I always revert to the interpretation of something familiar?… I feel so lost.”
I felt lost, but I still believed Christianity was true. I was certain. Still, doubts crept up in my mind. First, the question of whether or not God really changes people bothered me. I grew up in a Christian home, so I’d never seen anyone’s life radically changed by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Second, I couldn’t understand why God always seemed so silent. Third, I wrestled with the question of how God could justly condemn people who have never heard the gospel. I still don’t have great answers for these questions, but at the time these questions were tearing away at my faith.
During a multiple-school combined worship night in the area, I asked the man next to me to pray for me. I still don’t know who he is or what his name is. He prayed the most powerful prayer I had ever heard over me, while everyone else was worshiping God. He said that God is not a silent God. He’s a God who speaks to people, speaks to nations, speaks to kings, and speaks to presidents. Tears rolled down my face as I crumpled in my seat. Does God really speak? I heard His voice through that youth pastor. That night I doubted my doubts.
Yet even after that experience, my faith was still being tested.
In the weeks leading up to Easter, my doubts started eating me from the inside out. The fear that God isn’t real was suffocating. It was stifling. I couldn’t breath. Suddenly, the godless worldview made sense to me, but I couldn’t bear to believe it. If God isn’t real, then my life was a lie. I had no purpose. I had no hope. The world had no hope. The brokenness that we face everyday had no hope. There was no future, no life after death, no second chances. There was no reason for my morality. No reason for living at all. All there was in front of me death, peering over an empty life. I was scared.
These are not arguments. They were my genuine feelings.
Still I clung onto my faith. I would not let go.
I cried out to God and continued to read the Bible faithfully. One night I wanted to hear God’s voice so much that I decided to read only the words of Jesus in the book of Luke. It was comforting, but I stopped when the red words on the page read “where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). Those words hit me. It was then that I realized the answer was Jesus.
The only thing that gave me comfort was Jesus.
Instead of placing my faith in the doctrine of the established church or in what my parents taught me, I went back to the beginning. I placed my faith in Jesus. He was born of a virgin, worked visible and tangible miracles on earth, claimed to be the son of God, died willingly, rose from the dead, and preached faith and repentance to His disciples. It was as simple as that. Jesus was the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy, His death and resurrection are backed by mountains of evidence, and He preached the gospel with clarity and simplicity. Right before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He said, “the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
It was so clear. Jesus was the answer.
In the next few days, I started doing a little more research into the doubts I held. The articles I found really helped me. I also came across this verse:
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9).
My faith rests on a solid foundation. During those days of intense doubts, it wasn’t evidence that made me question my beliefs. The basis was not intellectual. I’m convinced that the doubts were a spiritual battle. The Devil was trying to shake my faith and stop me from doing hard things for God. Ultimately, it wasn’t a long list of evidences for God that helped me. It wasn’t going to an apologetics seminar (although I believe those are important). It was simple staying near to God and listening to the words of Jesus.
Through those verses, God was drawing me back to Himself. I felt my doubts being calmed by the simple gospel, spoken by the Son of God Himself.
Where is your faith?