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A fellow church council member insists that having doubts about our faith is not something “real” believers would experience. It’s made me even more doubtful. What should I do?

There are many examples in Scripture of people who had doubts. Perhaps John the Baptist’s life can be instructive. Even before he was born, he leaped in Elizabeth’s womb when he heard Mary’s voice. As a baby, John seemed sure who Jesus was. But in Luke 7, we read, “John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” That is quite a different posture than the one John took as a baby. John was in prison and heard about Jesus’ healings and teachings. We don’t know for sure why John asked this question, but Jesus was not doing the sorts of things that many Jews expected the Messiah to do—overthrowing foreign rulers, for example. So John wasn’t sure. He had doubts.

Throughout history, many believers have had doubts. Because we are born into sin, our ability to believe perfectly is hampered by our humanity. Expressing doubts doesn’t mean a person has given up on faith. It sometimes means that the way we have framed our faith needs adjustment or that the things we have grown up believing don’t match our current experience. Sometimes our personal life challenges can lead us to doubts. But God can handle our doubts. So bring them to God. Jacob was invited to wrestle with God, and we are too.

If you come across someone who is expressing doubts, listen to them carefully and without judgment, then share your thoughts about the issues, even (and perhaps especially) if you aren’t sure what the answer is. Encourage the person to continue to be in conversation with other Christians about their thoughts, and walk alongside them during this time in their life.

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