Pastors Corner


This summer, St. Luke Lutheran Church has been engaging questions of faith during our Thursday night worship services at Zion church off County Road 6. One of the most intriguing questions that has come up is, “What does God think about doubt?” What a great question! Doubt is something every believer in God struggles with at times, and those who say they don’t may not be engaging faith at the deepest levels possible. In doing my research to respond to this question I discovered an intriguing thing: The Bible’s response to many experiences of doubt is for God’s people to put words of doubt into words of prayer (check out Psalm 13 as one example).

Why is this intriguing? Well, first of all it tells us that doubt isn’t an enemy of faith, doubt gives us opportunities to practice faith. To make prayers out of our doubts presumes that God will respond, and by presuming God will respond, we’ve smuggled faith even into doubt. Turning doubt into prayer is also an unexpected form of “spiritual alchemy.” Doubt, at first glance, appears to be a barrier to faith while prayer is considered a tool that builds faith. When we turn words of doubt into words of prayer, we’re inviting a barrier of faith to become a tool of faith. Like weight resistance that makes muscles stronger, doubt in the form of prayer grows us.

Finally, I came across a fascinating quote by English theologian, Bishop N.T. Wright, in my studies on the dynamic between faith and doubt. Bishop Wright once said, “Faith and doubt are a bit like love and grief. To love means to be open to grief. To have faith means to be open to doubt. If you are closed to grief, you are probably closed to the fullness of love. If you are closed to doubt, you are probably closed to the fullness of faith.” This hit home for me. To love somebody is to desire to know them at their deepest level. We ask big questions of them & seek to know things about them that make sense to us and that confuse us. Then, we allow them to ask big questions of us and we show them parts of ourselves that make sense and that are wholly confusing (to us and to them). Love this big makes us vulnerable to grief and loss should something happen to that relationship.

Faith and doubt seem to share a similar dynamic. In order to love God and know Him at His deepest level we risk being confused by Him and not understanding Him from time to time as we pursue Him at ever deepening levels of knowledge and experience. And that makes us vulnerable to doubt. In short, to love much we must risk much. To believe much we must risk much also.

In the end, I suppose this means that faith and doubt can be two sides of the same coin if we use doubt well. At it’s best, and when formed into words of prayer (tools of faith), doubt draws us deeper into our relationship with God. Perhaps doubt only acts as an antagonist to faith if we ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. In the end, may our doubts drive us to prayer, and may our prayers open us up to God’s responses, and may God’s myriad of responses to any doubts we bring Him grow us in faith.