Jun 08, 2020

What To Do With Doubt (Part 1)

I was talking to a friend the other day who shared that he’d grown up in church, yet in high school and college he’d drifted, distancing himself from church, from faith, and from God. Now he was looking to return, but he still had doubts and questions.

I’m not sure how he thought I’d respond. He knows I’m a pastor. He’d heard I was a pastor’s kid. I wonder if he thought I couldn’t relate to him, that I’d never had doubts, that I always had everything figured out.

Well, I didn’t. I still don’t. I wrestle with my own doubts and questions everyday. More on that later.

My dad was a pastor before I was even born, so the only life I knew was life connected to church. In fact, until I was almost 10 years old, we lived on church property, right next to the building. Ministry was a part of our family, and I loved it. And I had a real relationship with Jesus from a young age, starting my own personal journey with Christ when I was only six. So all through elementary, middle, and high school, my life was wrapped up in church, ministry, and my own personal relationship with God.

But at some point early in college something happened. I started having questions. They seemed to come from out of nowhere, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

How do I even know there is a God? If there is, how do I know I’m worshipping the right one? There are lots of religions in the world, what about them? If God’s so good, why is there so much suffering in the world? Am I a Christian just because my parents are? Do I believe all this stuff just because they say it’s true? How can I know the real truth?

Questions started bombarding my mind—questions for which I did not have answers.

My six-year-old faith couldn’t handle my 20-year-old questions.

To be honest, my questions scared me. I was suddenly doubting everything I’d always believed, and I didn’t know what to do.

So, I did the only thing I could think of: I asked my questions. I explored my doubts. I read and researched and had conversations.  I looked for the truth and did my best to find answers.

As I explored, I learned a lot, and I did get some answers. Yet eventually I realized that no matter how much I read and studied, I would never have all my questions answered completely. I would never have all my doubts erased. I realized that even if I had a thousand years to research, it wouldn’t be enough. The human mind just isn’t big enough to understand all the mysteries of the universe.

Then it hit me: if there really is a God, I shouldn’t expect to understand Him completely. Part of what it means to be “God” is to be greater than anything else, to be beyond this world. I shouldn’t expect to fit a God who presides over millions of galaxies and quantum physics into a box inside my mind.

I’ll never forget the moment when everything shifted. I was at a Christian concert, and everyone around me was worshipping. I’d always loved music, and I’d passionately worshipped God when I was a kid and a teenager, but there I was, sitting in my chair, wondering how I could worship a God I didn’t know existed. How could I sing and raise my hands when I still had so many doubts? So I sat there sad and angry, intentionally closing myself off from what was going on around me, trying to wall myself off from this God I wasn’t sure I believed in.

But God broke through. In a way I can’t explain God spoke to me. I didn’t hear a voice out loud or see a bright light or a burning bush.  Yet in my mind I sensed God saying:

Brett, I know you have lots of questions. I know you have doubts. But don’t let them keep you from Me. You know me. I know you. You’ve known me since you were six years old. Remember when you first encountered me. Think back on all the ways I’ve been at work in your life since then. Trust me, and I’ll walk with you as you sort out these doubts and questions.

And in that moment, I stood up, raised my arms, opened my mouth, and worshipped. No, I did not have all my questions answered, but I knew there was a God because I had met Him. I had encountered God as a six-year-old, an eight-year-old, a thirteen-year-old, a sixteen-year-old, and now as a twenty year old. I knew there was a God, just as I knew my mom, dad, sister, brother, and friends—because I had a relationship with Him.

My questions didn’t go away, but I now found myself searching in a different way. Instead of pushing God out of the process, I invited Him in.  Instead of trying to figure it out on my own, I took my questions to God and asked Him to help me understand. My questions stopped being an obstacle to God and became a pathway to Him.

Do I have everything figured out now that I’m an adult and a pastor? No. And I never will.

I may not know all the answers, but I know a Person. And the more I get to know Him—the longer I follow Jesus—the more I believe that He has the answers I’m seeking.

Maybe you find yourself with doubts and questions. Your story may be different than mine, but you are not alone. Plenty of us can relate, and we’re with you. And God (even if you’re having trouble believing in Him right now) is with you too. Some people may tell you to ignore your questions, to pretend your doubts don’t exist, but I say God is big enough to handle your toughest questions and real enough to deal with your darkest doubts. So, where do you start? I’m glad you asked, because that’s PART 2.

By <a href="https://pastorskids.org/author/brett-mosher/" target="_self">Brett Mosher</a>

By Brett Mosher

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, Brett loved being involved at church but had his sights set on careers outside the church. God had different plans for Brett and steered him to Oakwood his senior year of college. In the 12 years Brett has been with Oakwood, he has served the church through various ways. He presently serves as our Pastor of Community Ministries. Brett caught the travel bug at a young age--he and his family lived all around Texas as well as Florida and Missouri. His favorite travel destination is a tie between London, Breckenridge, Laguna Beach, or maybe Switzerland. When he’s not traveling the world or helping at church, you might find Brett hiking, kayaking, or playing board games.