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What to do when you’re doubting God’s plan

woman, alone
(Photo: Unsplash/Leon Biss)

Doubting God and His plan for your life?

Ever since I was about five years old and asked my parents, “Where did God come from?” asking questions has played an important role in my faith. I think that’s the case for a lot of us. And ever since our parents answered with the most spiritual sounding version of “I honestly don’t know” that they could come up with, uncertainty has been a big part of our faith too.

Questions are how we explore truth. And uncertainty is often just a reality that we all have to live with. But doubting God is different. Doubt is what happens when you ask a question and the answer doesn’t satisfy, clearly define or measure up to your expectations. Doubt makes a lot of us feel very uncomfortable.

It makes those of us who tend to not ask many hard questions want to change the subject or just shrug their shoulders and happily concede, “I don’t know, but God does and that’s all that matters.” And it makes others of us who really struggle under the weight of unanswered questions feel like bad Christians for not having enough faith.

Let’s stop pretending we have it all together.

Christian conversations often sound a lot like automated emails. We have pre-programmed auto-replies that are triggered when certain things are said or certain questions are asked. You’ve heard these auto-replies before, I’m sure. Maybe you’ve even said them yourself.

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

“You can do all things through Christ.”

“You just have to trust Him. He knows what He’s doing.”

These well-meaning responses often communicate something very different than intended. They cause many of us to see Christianity as a religion full of people who always seem to trust God completely and know just what to say in every circumstance. When we experience this enough, we begin to feel like something is very wrong with us when we struggle with doubting God. So instead of being honest about it, we keep quiet.

People don’t need you to be strong. What people really need is for you to have the courage to be vulnerable about your struggles.

After all, we don’t want anyone to think we don’t trust God.

We think no one else struggles with doubt like we do, so doubting God and His plan is even more difficult to reveal to others. 

Ultimately we are not honest about our doubts because we’re afraid of being judged. We’d rather look the part of a picturesque believer, even if that means pretending we have faith than being an honest believer with real questions.

We do this because we feel alone.

We think we’re the only ones wrestling with doubt. But the truth is we’re not alone. We have doubt just like everyone else, we act like we have more faith than we really do just like everyone else and we refuse to be honest about it for fear of being judged just like everyone else.

But people don’t need you to be strong. What people really need is for you to have the courage to be vulnerable about your struggles. They need you to be an honest Christian who is willing to take a risk and say, “I’m really struggling here. I don’t have an answer, and while I’m striving to trust God, it’s hard to hold on.”

Ultimately we are not honest about our doubts because we’re afraid of being judged.

Honesty breaks others’ walls down and helps them know that their struggles are normal. When we are honest about our struggles, it gives other people the freedom to be honest too. And when one person is vulnerable, others usually follow suit.

Honesty gives God more to work with.

But we can’t just be honest with each other. We have to be honest with God and doubting God is a crucial part of faith.

God certainly isn’t afraid of or offended by your questions. He isn’t an insecure dictator who wants obedience without questions. He is a loving Father who wants you to trust Him with sincerity like any child should. So He welcomes our questions and doubts.

There was a man in the Bible who desperately needed a miracle from Jesus. When Jesus asked if the man really believed he could help, the man said, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts,” (Mark 9:24).

It is honesty, not a “fake it till you make it” attitude, that can truly lead to peace.

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