The Christian life is not for the faint hearted. It’s full of spiritual warfare against the fiery arrows of unseen enemies and the nasty pulls of our own flesh. Of course, God has promised all His children that He will bring His good work in us to completion on the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6), but the battle is still very, very real.
One of the most common ways that Christians experience spiritual warfare is through our struggles with doubting God. A couple of weeks ago, I experienced that doubt– big time. I let myself be badgered by one blasphemous question and accusation after another until I was knee deep in ignorance and sin. I poked fingers at God’s goodness, His plan for mankind, and even things as fundamental as His design for humanity. I went to bed crying and I woke up depressed. Every time I sat down to read God’s Word, my mind would scream things like: “This Christian stuff is stupid!” and, “Why do you even try?” It was intense, gritty, nasty, dirty, all out war against my flesh and I was miserable. It took me almost a week to wade fully out of the muck of the lies in my mind, and even now, I sit in the wake of the battle and am wrestling with those stragglers that I missed when I was in the thick of it.
During my time of struggle, there were 6 things that I found helpful when battling my doubts. Today, I’ll cover the first three.
#1 Realize You Are Not Alone
Okay, I know, this may come off as a little cliche, but I have found massive comfort in the realization that as horrible as it is to question God and His goodness, I am not the only one who has struggled in this way. In fact, in Psalm 73, we see Asaph wrestling with these very same thoughts. After looking around at the wicked and their apparent prosperity, Asaph is left wondering why he even tries to follow God when all he meets is hardship. In other words, Asaph doubted if God’s way was really good to the point that he was envious of the wicked:
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. […] All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.Psalm 73:2-3, 13-14
Here’s the really cool thing: Asaph was a worship leader! If anyone was supposed to have unshakable faith, it was Asaph! His very position warranted high standards for his life. He was looked up to by the people around him as an example and mature man of God. Yet, even he struggled with blasphemous thoughts!
It’s easy to feel alone when you’re struggling and like no one can identify with you, but that’s just not true. God’s people have struggled with doubts since the beginning of time. Just read the stories of Abraham or Moses! Even they stumbled and fell. Nobody is perfect. Everyone, at one point or another, has been tempted to doubt God.
#2 Confess: AKA, talk to God!
This may seem like a pretty obvious point, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to simply forget God. When we are fighting sin, whether it be doubts or anything else, we can tend to act like it’s all about us. But, friend, the universe is not centered around you. Instead, your life is God’s story. If you are a Christian, then He has chosen you to be an instrument for His glory– and believe me, God cares about His glory. Not only that, but He cares about you.
Talk to Him. Tell Him about your doubts. Be specific. What exactly are you struggling with? Then, ask Him to forgive you. It’s amazing how much better I feel once I tell God about my problems. Once you’ve done that, all that is left is for you to ask Him to help you. Remember, there is nothing that you have or will ever face that Jesus hasn’t already experienced Himself. If anyone’s an expert on fighting sin, it’s God. He is the ultimate warrior, and unlike us, He has triumphed over every temptation. As it says in Hebrews:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15
#3 Talk to a Human
Talking to God is key, but don’t discount the benefits that come from talking to other Christians. God designed His people as individuals, yes, but He also designed them as one cohesive body. You are not meant to live your life alone. More than that, I would encourage you to take your struggles to Christians who are more mature and older than you are.
I love talking to my friends about God, but I’m young and they’re young. Though it is certainly possible for a peer to be on different levels of maturity than you, there is also something to be said for life experience. So turn to your pastor, or better yet, talk to your parents! That’s what I did. In fact, it was my parents who turned my attention to Psalm 73 that I quoted earlier. I cannot tell you how much better I felt after I talked to them. Part of it was just getting my struggle out in the open. Sin loves the dark, but dragging it out into the light is the first step in killing it.
More than that, however, my parents are just stinking wise. They are the best at giving me a reality check, exposing my stupidity (and I say that without a hint of sarcasm because there is a lot of it), and pointing me to Scripture when I don’t have the willpower to look at it myself.
So, do yourself a favor and talk to somebody.
All sin is awful, but doubt especially can crush our Spiritual morale, weaken our faith, and be an unnecessary burden that taxes are strength spiritually, mentally, and physically. Don’t try to battle it alone, talk to God, talk to your fellow Christians, and turn to Scripture to learn and draw encouragement from the men and women of the faith that have gone before you.
For part two, we’ll discuss why it is important to go to church when you are struggling with doubts. We’ll also take another look at our friend Asaph and identify where a lot of doubts come from and what we should do in response. Finally, we’ll find encouragement, once again, from our dear Father’s unfailing faithfulness.