Doubts that challenge experienced Christians.
When life’s circumstances threaten our faith.
Does faith remain as meaningful for us?
I recommend you read the introductory article in this small subsection of the website that deals with the subject of doubt.
And remember, it is always ok to have doubts, no matter what our stage in faith or life might be. As I have said elsewhere on this site it is never unusual for us to occasionally think that all this God stuff might just be ‘too good to be true’! Indeed, please read the article, “Too Good to be true?” based on my own knowledge and experiences.
(I am from a senior auditing background and the majority of my advisory team are Christian clergy. To glimpse the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
As I also stated in that intro article, if we do challenge doubts when they arise, then our faith will continue to endure and grow.
The risk of doubts damaging our faith is more likely when we reach major stages in our lives and journeys of faith, e.g. adolescence, old age, serious emotional or physical suffering. And trust me, I do understand how these circumstances can ‘rattle’ our faith to the core!
2. DOUBT AFFECTS US ALL
Essentially, it does not matter how long any of us have had our faith, doubts can still arise. For ‘starters’, God will always be invisible to us during life.
The initial response to doubt, from us, might be annoyance. That is, we thought we had it all together and now here comes some new question to challenge our views. At times, I even found myself going back to the very start of my faith journey … to rethink it all. Read the article, “Can I really believe in God?”
2.1 Act on our doubts
When it does happen, us experienced believers should know better than to just ‘shrug off’ the new doubt. That only allows it to fester in our mind, to periodically surface and undermine our faith and belief.
I certainly understand now that doubts do need to be analysed, i.e. “why?” or “how?”
2.2 Don’t allow that relationship to fade
From my own 30 plus years of experience, I consider that religious doubt more often strikes when we have left God out of our lives for a little too long. And I think this happens to most of us at some time or other. When we turn our minds back to him again, all manner of doubts can flood our thoughts.
And you know, belief in God itself will just dribble away if we do not regularly ‘engage with him’ – ‘within our lives‘, ‘within the Church‘ and reading the Bible. Yes, our faith will eventually fail us if we just leave it on ‘automatic pilot’. There are heaps and heaps of articles on this website to guide you in this regard.
To my mind, the more we involve ourselves with him, as this website encourages/ guides, the more evidence of his presence will occur. Thereby regularly strengthening our belief in God … and supporting our Christian faith.
3. WHEN LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE
From my own life’s evaluation, I consider that faith requires a serious re-examination at different stages of life. There is a real risk that serious doubts may occur as a result of challenges arising at these times.
For example, adolescents’ views and beliefs change as powers of reasoning, knowledge and social interaction grow. Yes, I write that one from experience. It happened to me .. my faith and belief failed at that stage in life. Yes, it did all look ‘too good to be true’.
Simple views of religion learnt from parents, Sunday School etc during our earlier years may no longer support faith during the approach to adulthood. Additional learning and a new informed, more mature commitment to faith may be necessary. Again, I suggest you have a look at that article “Can I really believe in God?“
Also look for God’s ‘leadings‘ to assist you in that regard. Hmmm … yes, I got them as my faith began to fail at that earlier time in life but sadly I ignored them all!
And please check out the many articles on this website, that may be able to assist you. Please also click those links under subheading 2.2 above. Remember again, we absolutely need to ‘engage with God’ if we want to believe in him.
3.2 Disability, suffering and old age
Those who have shifted to old age and/ or disabilities … or those suffering from serious physical or emotional stress and pain … may also need to re-examine their faith. That is, to understand how it fits within a life where independence and so-called quality of life may have been lost.
Remember to keep in touch with the Lord; engaging with him. Also look out for offers of Christian ministry, to support you, from unexpected sources. God can set-up or ‘orchestrate’ this kind of support for you. Please check out the article, “God during hard times.”
3.3 At times of loss or deep emotional pain
As an example here, losing a loved one can also challenge our longstanding faith. We often hear that question in our heads, “Why did God let this happen, if he is really there?” And I have personally been there and done that! Logically though, he should not meddle around in reality, stopping every bad event from occurring.
The Lord is always there to help us pick up the pieces though (again please see the article, “God during hard times”). The article, “Suffering and Evil?” certainly examines related issues and God’s role within them.
4. THE FINAL WORD
So, as experienced Christians, when we find ourselves doubting the value of our Christian faith, or even the very existence of God, we do need to take action. We simply have ‘too much to lose’, if we do not. I am sure faith and belief can offer so much positivity to our lives. Please read, “What does faith offer us?” to get the big picture as I understand the facts.
Ok then, let’s have a last look at what can be done to help us overcome those doubts.
4.1 Regularly attend church
Remember that regular attendance at church, and as much involvement with its events and mission as possible, can make the ‘reality’ of Christianity very clear to us even during tough times. Again I recommend you read the article, “God’s presence in the Church”. Some of the most powerful evidence of God’s existence can be found in church. Yes, my oh my, he can certainly ‘interact seriously with us there‘ if we happen across ‘the right church‘ at the right time. I admit it sure surprised me all those years ago when I first experienced it. However, we can absolutely recognise God at work in almost any old church … once we ‘know how to do so‘.
‘Deep’ messages, relevant to our circumstances in life and faith, can just surface during a sermon or talk within any church services we attend. Oh yes, God’s ‘orchestrations’ can work there to our benefit!
And our contact with the Church assists each and every one of us to better make the ‘quantum leap’ of accepting Jesus (the Word) as genuinely alive and intimately connected with each of us.
4.2 Don’t forget the Bible
Importantly, it is useful to keep our knowledge of God growing; maturing by regularly reading the Bible. Have a look at the article, “Our amazing Bible” for guidance on how to read and understand it.
There are also many publications available out there to assist us in understanding the Bible’s ‘big picture’ for us etc. Once again, ‘Alpha’ is also there to help us online, e.g. “Bible in One Year“.
4.3 Keep ‘the line open’
Continued communication with God is also essential, i.e. prayer. As Christians, it is not sufficient to just ‘believe in God’. No, he wants us to have a personal and intimate relationship with him; to genuinely engage with him there.
And the ‘rewards‘ are there waiting for us. Again, as Christians, we must also commit ourselves to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Such a relationship really helps when the ‘chips are down’, be it when a life crisis occurs or when a serious doubt challenges us. We can then ‘move ahead’ through God’s ‘grace‘.