You are either on the inside or the outside, black or white! If you’re not with us then you are totally against us. Sometimes it can be like that. But often we are more in between. Maybe you do not feel so convinced as those around you? Maybe thoughts or feelings are a bit “gray” or mixed? You doubt. Is it right to do this? Was it a good way to meet her? Is it absolutely true as he said it? Should I invest more in this relationship? Should we wait to have sex? Is what I believe in completely wrong? Am I worth anything whatsoever? Does life really have a meaning?
It is healthy with some skepticism and good to stop and ask critical questions to ourselves and our surroundings. Otherwise we are
like hay that whizzes around with the wind, shapeless and colorless. I’d say it’s very healthy with a dose of doubt toward strong
authority figures, the tabloid truths and our own prejudices. But there is also doubt of a kind that might be quite painful. Most types
of doubt pass by rather quickly, but not all. It can drain us until exhaustion. Doubt may occur gradually and then become
completely immersive, or it may be there as a longlasting “murmur” inside us.
Sometimes we revolve so much around in doubt, that we need to jump out of the spiral and pause our speculations not to suffocate from the issue. For certainly not all doubt is healthy and productive. But often it will be foolish to overlook the doubt. If we close the inside instead of talking to others about it, it may remain there as an open wound. Pherhaps sometimes doubt is a way for our own conscience to get us to stop because we need a change of direction? Pherhaps it can be an instinctive or God-given brake inside us?
We can have doubt because we have intellectual problem with something; pherhaps something is irrational to us or we don’t get the pieces to fit together. Other times it may be a feeling of insecurity which we can not explain, not related to logic or reason. Or because our experiences crashes with our theoretical model of something. For example, some find it hard to believe in a loving God when there is so much suffering in our world. But often we don’t have consciousness of our doubt. It is just there, somethimes sneaking up behind you and irritating the brain.
Unfortunately, religious doubt – as many of us have experienced – are often not seriously met by the “true (non)believers”. One
could almost believe they were afraid to be infected by doubt. Often we feel almost a little inconvenient when one dares to come
with questions or doubt. Then the person with doubt may get a feeling that they’re less worth and not doing/thinking/feeling
right/enough. They feel like beeing second class believers. But doubt is natural and not a sign of a morally or intellectually inferior
personality. It is allowed to doubt! It’s quite naturally for some of us, when we see so many strange things happening in the world,
or when we cry out to a God that’s often invisible to us. To live in faith without seeing everything can be difficult.
We can read things in the Bible like “let him ask in faith, without wavering. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind”(James 1: 6). This may make many feel small with their doubt! The Bible have other citations with a negative focus around questioning faith, like Psalm 18, 26: “You are faithful to the faithful, wholeheartedly against each wholehearted man.” But do these verses tell us something significant about doubt or is it just a proclamation to have more faith? The first verse describes the situation when we are very uncertain and in doubt, and how it could limit our strength and deeper freedom. The psalms give us an essential key to understand the Bible’s warning against doubt: It can hurt us because it makes us less faithful in relationship with God and what we want to hold as true and right. Doubting God, Our fellow man or ourself can make us wobbly and passive. Religious doubt must be seen in relation with the understanding of the faith. Completeness and true Peace in christianity is primarily given through an active relationship with Jesus as God. If we doubt Jesus godliness or love for us, it will naturally prevent us from giving him confidence and seeking contact with him. But according to the Bible that does not prevent Jesus from seeking us, as illustrated for instance in Luke 15 with the story of the prodigal son.
Doubt is not the opposite of faith. The opposite is denial and rejection. One of those who followed Jesus up close, Thomas, was known as the doubter among the apostles. He doubted whether Jesus had been resurrected. Instead of being insulted by this man who didn’t believe or remember what Jesus had said earlier, Jesus asked Thomas to feel the wounds in the hands and side. In the disciple’s feeling of crushed faith and sorrow, Jesus met him and gave him reason to continue.
(For more about doubt and faith in a spiritual and christian context you can read an article under life and theology –> life as a christian –> Spiritual doubt.)