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Navigating the tension of faith and doubt

Unsplash/Emily Morter
Unsplash/Emily Morter

I’m a follower of Jesus, so I guess that makes me a person of faith. I attribute the presence and power of God to many things that go on in my life. Yet some would argue this has nothing to do with God but is merely the result of luck or coincidence. I guess that’s always possible. But when you think about it, luck and coincidence are nothing more than alternative forms of faith.

Webster defines luck as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity” and coincidence as “the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.” There is absolutely no way to prove the existence of a force or an accident that seems to have a mystical connection. These are alternative faith paths to explain the unexplainable without God.

So, do I ever wonder if my faith in God is misplaced? Sure, because while I’m a person of faith, I find I’m also a person of doubt. Sometimes, the realities of life are just so unsettling it makes me want to join the doubter crowd and cry, “Where is God? If He’s real and loving, why doesn’t He do something!”

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I’ve never seen God with my eyes or heard Him with my ears, which is fertile soil for doubt. So, is doubt a disqualifier of faith? I don’t think so. Doubt is about questioning, while unbelief is about rejection. It’s pretty normal to question things we don’t understand, and there's a long list of things I don’t understand about God. Yet this is to be expected since there is no way my little two-cylinder brain can comprehend all there is to know about the infinite God:

“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8).

I often find myself doubting — questioning — before and after making a decision. The other day I had to purchase a computer monitor because mine was done. I searched the web for endorsements, only to find a plethora of differing opinions. I talked with a few friends, prayed, and then made a choice. Today, it’s connected and working just fine. My doubt didn’t disqualify me from making a choice but instead drove me to investigate, process, question, and then move forward with my doubts to a conclusion.

I know some question the existence of God because He hasn't performed the way they were led to believe He would. Disappointment, loss, the hypocrisy of so-called Christians, and the seeming absence of divine intervention in times of need led them to conclude God didn’t exist.

Like many others, I, too, have experienced frustration, disappointment, and even anger at the seeming silence of God. Life's not going as I think it should, and the darkness keeps getting darker. It is very disorienting, and it's in times like these I have to make a choice: will I go with faith or doubt?

What I’ve learned is that faith and doubt are both necessary for life to work. If I never doubt, I’ll end up falling for anything. But if I never have faith, I’ll live in a perpetual state of despair and get frozen in time. There are very few decisions any of us can make with absolute certainty because we lack the time and horsepower to process everything about everything. At some point we must choose to exercise faith — even in the shadow of doubt — and only time will determine if we made the right choice.

I’m choosing faith over doubt because even in my darkness, the sun has always risen again. And I’m choosing faith in a loving God over faith in luck or coincidence because while one gives me an inner sense of hope and peace, the other leaves me cold and at the mercy of a big, lifeless nothing.

It’s a no-brainer.

Ron Tewson is the President of the Therefore Project. He is also an author, husband, and father of five.

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