For anyone who meets me, hopefully, one of the first things you recognise is that I am someone who loves Jesus. 16 years ago, I made a commitment to follow him and haven’t looked back since. I like to talk about Jesus. A lot. I like to share stories about how Jesus has changed my life and changes the lives of people across the world every single day. I find ways of slipping Jesus into all of my day-to-day conversations, whether it is at the school gates when chatting to parents, or at my running club when I’m catching up with people. I would consider myself an open book when it comes to my faith! I’m a church leader so if anyone has to love Jesus it’s me, right? With that in mind you might be a little shocked to read the title of this blog - ‘Jesus, I have my doubts’.
Let me get one thing straight before I carry on though. I don’t doubt that Jesus died for me. I don’t doubt that he transformed my life. I don’t doubt that he is the answer to every question that comes up in my life. None of those things are in doubt. What I sometimes question, though, is what Jesus is up to when I look around and see different things happening in the world around me.
I see people arguing and fighting about politics and faith and vaccines and Brexit. I see people getting sick and dying, families torn apart. I see racism still raging in our society today, people are abused on social media because of the colour of their skin. I see women scared to walk home on their own for fear of attack. I see people scared to trust the police in their local area. I see knife crime soaring and attacks happening every day. I see Christians facing extreme persecution across the world, and increasing levels of persecution in our very nation. You get the idea. I look around and see a pretty messed up world and yes, Jesus, I have my doubts. How can all of this be part of his plan? Where is he in all of this? Why can’t he just step in and fix everything?
One of my favourite songwriters and poets, Jon Foreman, recently wrote a song about this, the title of which I’ve borrowed for this blog. These are some of the lyrics;
Jesus, feels like the world's in pieces
I'm sure You've got Your reasons
But I have my doubts
Jesus, I have my doubts
When everything that's right feels wrong
And all of my belief feels gone
And the darkness in my heart is so strong
Can You reach me here in the silence?
Singing these broken songs
Looking for the light for so long
But the pain goes on and on and on
Can You reach me here in the silence?
I really resonate with some of those lyrics, and I think as Christians we need to be better at expressing some of our fears and our doubts. We need to be better at asking big questions in order to process what is happening in the world around us. When we face difficulties in our own lives, and things just seem pretty bleak, we need to be able to express our doubts. Sometimes a faith-filled but dismissive answer like, ‘It’s part of God’s plan.’ doesn’t quite cut it as a response.
Asking big questions and having doubts when it comes to God isn’t a new idea. You only have to open up your Bible and read some of the Psalms to see that King David would be the first to ask questions. Verses like ‘Why, O Lord, do you stand so far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ 1 or maybe ‘How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? 2. Finally, we see, ‘How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?’ 3. There are countless other verses in the Bible that follow similar themes and these statements are in the Bible for a reason - Christians for centuries have used them to meditate on as they have wrestled with big questions and doubts.
Having doubts isn’t wrong, asking questions isn’t wrong, seeking wisdom isn’t wrong. In fact, we are specifically told in the book of James to seek wisdom. ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’ (James 1:5). How we ask those questions, and what we do with those doubts is important though. If we go back to our examples in the Psalms, we always find that those big questions are asked from a place of security in God’s overarching plan. Go back to the example in Psalm 13, David starts with the big question, ‘How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?’ But then he finishes his Psalm with the statement in verse 5, ‘But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation’. David was able to ask the big questions, and have his doubts because he was secure in the fact, that over all things, he could trust God’s unfailing love.
For me this is the most important thing to remember. God doesn’t want us to shut up and accept everything we see around us with a blind sense of optimism. He encourages us to ask big questions, but to do that from a place of trust and knowledge that he is sovereign and loving. Those aspects of God’s character are never in doubt. As long as we remember that, and have that as our anchor, we can process some of the difficulties that we see around us, and at times question whether God is really with us in our circumstances. When our friends ask us difficult questions, we can answer them by saying, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I struggle with that too’ in the knowledge that it doesn’t make us less of a Christian, or less loved by God!
You may be reading this article from a difficult place. You may well have your doubts as to where God is in all of it. Can I encourage you to cling to the truth first and foremost that he is loving and that his love never fails? And then take him with you into your questions and your doubts. Be real with God and ask him your big questions, seek wisdom from him knowing that you can trust him.
Maybe one day we will get to a point where it is ok for Christians to accept that sometimes they will have doubts, without having to use an article with a provocative title!
- Psalm 10:1
- Psalm 13:11
- Psalm 74:10
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