“If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” ― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Is it the ultimate wrong to doubt God?
I wish with all of my heart that I could force myself to at-all-times believe everything God says. I wish I never doubted and lived in bliss. There have been moments where I doubted: What if all of this is fake? What if God wants everyone but me? What if I committed the unforgivable sin? What if the Spirit isn't inside of me because I didn't faint at the touch of a minister's hand? What if I'm not really beautiful, or purposeful?
I know, I know...It would be easier to simply tell doubt to go away and just know I am enough, God was enough, and He existed within me. BUT that's the interesting thing about doubt: Doubt makes simply saying, "I know that's not true" feel almost impossible. Unlike other struggles, going to God in the midst of doubt feels contradictory.
If we are doubting God's existence, we don't cry out to who could be imaginary. If we are doubting that He loves us, we feel abandoned and we don't know if we want Him. If we doubt His strength, we feel unwilling to trust His plan or His power in carrying His plan out.
Does this make sense? Doubt is difficult and lonely! We feel we can't reach out to God
Do lots of believers doubt? When Peter walked on water with Jesus, it only took a few seconds for doubt to overcome his mind (Matthew 14:29-31). In addition, Thomas needed proof when Jesus came back to life from the grave (John 20:24-28).
Doubt is not rare. In fact, I went to a church service and witnessed 9 of every 10 people raise their hands, admitting to some form of doubt in their lives... AT THAT MOMENT.
I doubted for years, and while I doubted, I did not let myself feel protected by God because I felt that my doubt was too disobedient for Him. I never wanted to doubt, but couldn't figure how to force my mind to believe. How can we force something like that? This doubt went against my own will and desires for my life...Where was my help?
I believe God is willing to help us when we doubt. In fact, I believe He knows us well enough to know that we cannot simply force belief in moments of doubt. BUT- what we can do is yell out to Him for help. It's our choice, and it feels contradictory, but it's beneficial to us.
When Peter doubted, Peter asked for help and Jesus reached out to him and lifted him from the water. When Thomas said he needed to see the holes in Jesus' hands, Jesus showed his hands. Both men cried out to the Lord, and Jesus reached out twice- once to show the scars and once to save.
When I mess up with doubt, I beat myself up, BUT how does Jesus react? Neither time did Jesus abandon His people. Why, then, do we suppose that OUR doubt scares God away?
Two weeks ago, I doubted and this doubt led me to another doubt: "Doubt can't exist when the Spirit is in someone, right? So the spirit must not actually be in me."
But despite my doubt, I chose to cry out to God desperately in hope...and God showed me that there are two different kinds of doubt: Permanent doubt which is always (until death) unwilling to acknowledge God, and temporary doubt.
He showed me I have nothing to fear, because although the Holy Spirit does provide joy, we still experience temporary sadness...and although the Spirit provides peace, we still experience moments of anxiety. Similary, we experience temporary doubt at times even though the Spirit provides faithfulness. Experiencing moments of temporary sadness, anxiety, or even doubt does not mean the Spirit is not inside of us. God also showed me the importance in reaching out to Him in the midst of doubt- when it feels difficult.
Satan schemes to forever distract us from God. For a lot of us, Satan will use doubt, especially if we never yell out to God in moments of doubt. Of course, Satan wants to make us feel unreachable and hopeless. But, I can tell you confidently, when I experienced doubt recently and cried out to God, He was quick to comfort and teach me. Jesus will not leave you hanging. He didn't leave Thomas or Peter hanging, and He will also reach out to you.
I wish the topic of doubt wasn't as taboo, especially when ninety percent of some church congregations admit to doubt. Why don't we see doubt for what it is... a trick of Satan's? In addition, I have complete confidence that this temporary doubt we experience does not damn us to hell, just as the temporary anxiety, or temporary sadness does not damn us to hell. I believe the most beneficial thing we can do in moments of doubt is realize that it does not separate us from God or His salvation....and to cry out to Him to help us overcome it. Doubt tries to recruit us into sinful living... which Satan aims to destroy us. Let us choose to go to God in prayer when we doubt. He can handle our questions and He wants to help us.
So NO... this temporary doubt is not the "ultimate wrong"... but God has better for us, and He wants to live this adventure WITH us, not kept at arm's length.