What do you do? Your 13 year old daughter sits down at the kitchen table and asks you this question, "Dad, I am not sure if God really exists. How do you believe in someone you can't see?" As a Christian parent, especially a pastor, should you tell her in harsh tones to "just believe"? Do you put your hands on your face and ask her mournfully where you have failed as a parent? Or do you thank God that your daughter feels the freedom to share her doubts with you about God?
"Sharing doubts? Isn't that dangerous, isn't that encouraging sin?"
No, doubting is not sin, it is a part of being human. Think about it, if doubt wasn't normal why would we be told to live by faith? Part of being human is our limited capacity in knowing all things fully, we don't see hardly anything clearly. In our study of John, even after talking with Jesus face to face about spiritual things, Nicodemus the brilliant teacher, was still full of doubt and confusion. The truth is, from living in this broken world, we are placed in a land that is awash in doubt. Our problem is not doubt; it is our response to it. There are two "foolish" ways to deal with it when it arises:
(1) Out of fear, you completely ignore doubt and act as if it doesn't exist.
(2) Out of pride, you relish it and act superior because it proves you are an "independent thinker."
Both approaches are deadly because, like a poisonous snake, doubt will bite you! And when it does it leads a soul toward "confirmed unbelief." So what every person must do is go to war to de-fang the snake of doubt. (You can really never kill it, but you can render it harmless). How? Let me diagram it (this concept I gleaned from Oz Guinness in his book "God in the Dark"):
I want to point out three things as you look at this diagram concerning the "Battle Ground of Doubt":
(1) Doubt Exists: You can not wish it, hope it, or dream doubt away - - the human heart is seeking for certainty all of it's life, it never stops. Why else does your wife want to know, almost daily, if you love her? Because doubt exists. And this is never more true than in the abstract realm of faith. Like Doubting Thomas, "We want to feel Christ's wounds with our own hands." I thank God Thomas has the "HOOTSVAH" to ask Jesus if he can touch! On the diagram I have listed many different areas we doubt - - they are real, and it is not a sin to wonder about these things.
(2) Doubts, when left unchallenged, slide toward unbelief. Unbelief is the sin: God has answers, he rewards seekers, he has sent his Son. But if we ignore all he has done, and choose to remain independent, we follow in the cursed path that Adam wrought on this earth. One of the biggest "smokescreens" in this battle is when people ask questions, not to find answers, but to sound intelligent. True seekers will be given answers; but when the answers are given they must treat them as gold! Pride often looks on the answers with contempt and treats them as plastic toys; but they are direct invitations by God to "Come and See."
(3) When you do "Come and See," faith is strengthened; and you will soon find that the road to belief is paved with solid stone. If you struggle with belief, read the following quote by F. Gerrit Immink that discusses how God builds faith through doubt:
Faith stands in a constant tension between human trust and divine trustworthiness. God’s truth is that God is true, that is, trustworthy and utterly dependable. And this is where our faith finds its certainty: in who God is. It is not a blind trust but a trust that is linked to what we know and understand. This naturally means a believer must nurture his relationship to grow in knowledge. As a result, believers face a continuous struggle against their own unbelief. After a while the certainty they do achieve does not result from a rational proof but from a persuasion of divine truth.”
Let me ask you this question: When there is a court trial to convict someone of a crime, what is the goal of the prosecution in order to gain a conviction? "To prove that the crime occurred BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT." It is not to prove a crime occurred with "100% CERTAINTY." That is impossible to do because we are human! Doubt will always exist, but that doesn't means we can't find a firm base to trust. In fact, as you read this you sat down on your chair because there was a strong chance it would hold you up even though you weren't perfectly certain it would. Reasonable doubt allows you to live normally and not be like Bob Wiley afraid to ever leave your house.
So, what happened with the 13 year old daughter? I spent a good hour and a half walking through the book of 1 Corinthians 15 with her; and it was one of the greatest conversations we ever had. Having your daughter reading the writings of Paul and how 500 people witnessed the risen Christ is a privilege for any father.
Don't doubt me on that!