Let’s be honest.
Most of us have doubts.
It is a total spectrum problem. By “total spectrum” I mean the most devout Christian will have doubts from time to time and the most dedicated atheist will have doubts from time to time.
“Where is my faith? – even deep down, right in, there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. – My God – how painful is this unknown pain. It pains without ceasing. – I have no faith. – I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart – & make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me – I am afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy – If there be God, – please forgive me.”
Those words sound pretty doubtful.
They are from a woman who will be a saint in the Roman Catholic Church one day—Mother Teresa.
When Billy Graham at the age of almost ninety was asked if he felt God was going to say to him at the end of his life “Well done, good and faithful servant”, he paused and seemed to agonize with his reply. His eventual response was “I hope so.”
Doubt swings the other direction too.
John Ortberg* cites a writer for Wired Magazine who had the task of reviewing the work of the most popular atheists. The writer stated his bias in the article, that he was an agnostic. He also said he admired the certainty of the atheists he was reviewing, but he could not join their ranks. He was afraid they might be wrong.
He had his doubts.
Many believers think that people who do not believe are lost in a meaningless life, they have confusion about morality and they have large periods of time when they feel despair. Many doubters assume believers don’t think, are close-minded and are very judgmental.
Truth is, there is a mix of doubt and faith in every soul. To generalize about believers and doubters is meaningless.
I have to retell this. It is too cute. Maybe you have heard it. If you have, stop me! Just kidding. Read on.
“Three men are on a plane, an airplane pilot, a Boy Scout and the world’s smartest man. Suddenly the engine fails and the plane is going down. The problem is there are only two parachutes. The world’s smartest man grabs one immediately and says “Sorry guys, but I am the world’s smartest man. The planet needs me more than it needs you two. I have too many responsibilities. I gotta go.” He jumps from the plane. That leaves the Boy Scout and the pilot. The pilot begins to explain, “I have had a long life and you are young. You have your whole life in front of you. You take the last parachute.” The Boy Scout replies “Relax Captain. The world’s smartest man just jumped out of this plane with my backpack.”
As believers or nonbelievers, we have to be honest.
Sooner or later, the plane is going to go down. We are all on it. We have to decide if we are going to crash with the plane or if we are going to jump. We can choose a parachute. But no one will know if that is a wise choice until…
It has been a slow process for me [maybe for you too]. I look at where I am today and I think back on my past and I see periods of doubt and periods of belief. I see periods of faith stagnation and I see periods of growth in my faith.
Is my faith “perfect” today?
Of course not. There is still plenty of room to grow. I am still learning the lessons of my Lord and Savior. Yet I have come down on the side of belief. I have put Jeremiah 29: 11-14 on the wall for a reason. I choose to believe those words: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…
At some point in life, I believe you have to declare that you have adopted a truth that fits you. You look at the evidence you have, you think about what others have told you, you read your Bible and you factor in your own personal experiences and you choose to trust.
Is it a “perfect” trust?
No, but it is trust nevertheless.
Why do it?
Because I need hope.
I am going to grab that parachute and jump.
*John Ortberg Know Doubt