Doubt Can Be a Beautiful Thing

Today’s scripture: Psalms 88 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Linda Bernabie):

Like everyone, tough things have happened in my life. Maybe it was just one devastating incident, or a whole lot of “stuff” that simply overwhelmed me.

After one especially grievous event in my life I was, simply put, a mess. Just like Henan in Psalm 88, I turned to prayer. And just like Henan, my prayers included crying, screaming, begging, pleading, and frustration. This went on for days until I finally felt totally beaten, and tired. I just couldn’t pray any more; it wasn’t doing any good anyway, so why put myself through the frustration? I felt like the God whom I loved and worshipped was either turning a deaf ear, or maybe the whole “God” thing was just a sham. I began to doubt that God even existed. I could feel my faith drifting away; and that was agonizing, so I began doing everything in my power to get rid of the “doubt” as quickly as possible.

I thought I knew God pretty well. I had read the Bible cover to cover, led a few Bible studies, went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and sat on the church Board of Directors. You know, all of that “church stuff.”

I was sure I was doing everything God wanted me to do. After all, we had a great relationship. I knew what church God preferred, what Bible translation God read, how God voted, what movies God watched, the books God read, and the kind of people God approved of. Coincidentally, God liked all of the things I liked!! Wasn’t that amazing??

Suddenly, this overwhelming doubt I was experiencing forced me to have another look at who I thought God really was. I realized that all of the “church stuff” hadn’t impressed God at all. All God really wanted was my trust, and that was something I was never really able to give. I wanted my prayers to be answered “my way,” so I was totally ignoring “God’s way.” Lesson learned!!!

Doubt can be a beautiful thing! Doubt can force you to reach inside your mind and heart, and to grow spiritually. Without the doubts that flooded my mind, I would have never realized that I had never really put myself into God’s loving arms and said, “Your will be done.”

Now, when a doubt creeps in (and it still does occasionally), rather than trying to hide it, I try to be honest. I don’t shove it into some dark closet so that nobody can ever know about it, or pretend that it doesn’t exist. I tackle my doubts head on and welcome them as gifts that will lead me to spiritual renewal and growth.

It is okay to doubt. After all, in the garden and on the cross, Jesus said, “God, where are you? I don’t see you anywhere. Are you even there? I am giving up all hope.” Nowhere have I seen an 11th Commandment that says, “Thou shalt have perfect faith and never doubt.”

Thought for the day: “I don’t think God cares so much how big our faith is, but whether we are willing to trust [God] the little bit we are able. A little faith put to use is much better than a big faith sitting on the shelf doing nothing. I think we all have plenty of faith if we’ll just put it to work.” Michael Phillips, Flight from Stonewyck

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.