How Doubt Saved My Faith

Your questions won't sink your faith.

BY LUKE LARSEN GOD July 29, 2013

Whether it’s from Rob Bell, Donald Miller, or just your local breed of hip, urban pastors—most of us have heard a sermon or two on doubt by now. You know, the ones that say something to the effect of, “Doubt is an important part of developing a more mature faith.” That might be true. At the very least though, embracing doubt has become an important part of the development of twentysomething theological rhetoric.

But it hasn’t always been. There was a time when the Church didn’t have such a high view of doubt. For example, when I was growing up—no less than 10 years ago.

Living with doubt
I did not grow up in the Church, nor did I become a Christian early on. But through a series of spiritual epiphanies and encounters with the Living God, I became a Christian at the age of 15 (although I feel like I’ve “become” a Christian many times since then as well). During this year or two was the only time in my life I can remember having what I’d call a “normal, Evangelical” faith—the kind that never questioned or thought too hard about anything I heard at church. I had accepted Jesus into my heart as my Savior and nothing else really mattered. I went to Creationfest and listened to Kutless—I even placed vaguely Christian quotes in my AIM and Myspace profiles in attempts to evangelize to my friends.

But when I turned 16 or so, I started encountering this big, messy thing called doubt for the first time. But this wasn’t one of those small puddles of doubt that I could just step over. Nor was it a river of doubt I could swim across if I trained long and hard. This was an insurmountable ocean of doubt—one with seemingly no end. This was the kind that people drown in.

I never really told anyone about that doubt at the time, realizing quickly that most of the Christians I knew didn’t bother thinking too hard about such things. But I doubted everything: the authenticity of the Bible, the historicity of Jesus, the value of the Church, creationism—the whole nine yards. I would go back and forth over the months in terms of beliefs, but whenever the doubt would take over, I’d fall into a state of frantic panic. I think of it being like when someone who doesn’t know how to swim just jumps in a pool and starts flailing their arms around.

A strong faith doesn’t come from Seminary

In my years of intense seeking and studying, I didn’t end up finding any real solace for my soul. Sure, I learned some valuable stuff about how the Bible was made and the historical argument for the bodily resurrection on Easter morning (thanks N.T. Wright)—but nothing magical. Nothing that would forever put my doubts to rest. By the time I was 21, I could wade through the water. I had the facts and theories and counter-arguments to keep me afloat, but still didn’t have the boldness to swim on my own.

But one thing I learned during this time was that well-meaning Christians love to tell you doubt is an important thing to acknowledge in your life, but that you shouldn’t ultimately get too carried away with it. Don’t go down that road too far. Be careful what you read. Stay away from the water. After all, you don’t want to be like doubting Thomas who couldn’t even acknowledge the Risen Christ without inspecting him like a TSA agent at the airport. But I can’t help think that the Church is so busy saving people who are drowning in their doubt that we rarely have time to teach people to swim.

It’s kind of like Job (the guy from the Bible, not the guy from Arrested Development), who goes through a very long, frustrating time of doubting God and trying to figure out how He works. He gets in these long, drawn out arguments with his buddies and they are no help. He accuses God of all sorts of terrible things. But ultimately, a heady dialogue on the nature of God could never settle those things for him. He never really found answers to his questions about suffering and oppression and injustice this way. In order to be freed of his doubt and contention with God, Job had to come face to face with the Living God. God had to show up. God had to speak. And He did—and He made Job feel really dumb for the ways he had doubted God’s steady hand of justice. But He also honored Job’s courage and his desire to pursue Him through suffering and confusion.

For me, it wasn’t until I’d realized that it was not knowledge, but fear—some of the same fear that Job had—that was keeping me from moving forward in my faith. My fear of the unknown and my fear of death were what held me under doubt’s captivity—not my lack of compelling apologetics. God had to show up.

Knowing God in your heart

“Faith is like yogurt,” said my college pastor, standing a half-stage in front of about 200 college students who had chosen to go to church on a Friday night instead of party with the rest of the town. He said the berries on top (hint: the doubt) needed to be mixed into the yogurt (hint: faith) to have a full picture of what being a disciple of Jesus was like. If you were missing the berries in your meal, your faith was a bit incomplete. You could still eat it, but it was missing the flavor it was meant to have.


For a lot of people sitting at that college group, that probably convinced them that the doubt they experienced in their lives was OK. That it was healthy. Part of a maturing faith even. But for me, that picture of faith rocked my world because it made me realize that I had been doing faith wrong for most of my life. My proportions were all backwards. My walk with Christ had been more like an entire bowl of berries with some Yogloo drizzled on top. I was doing it wrong. I was the Job of of chapters of 3-41—the guy who was constantly calling out to God in anger and confusion and not receiving the answers he wanted. It was time to stop doing laps at the pool and start trusting God in the ocean—out where there was actually something at stake.

Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in their heart there is no God.” Loving God and believing in Him has—and always will be—a choice of the heart. The choice to pursue God is one we make deep down in the core of who we are—sometimes even unbeknownst to the stuff going on in our cognition.

I can’t say that diving headfirst into the ocean is a good idea for everyone. It’s dangerous. It will mess with your understanding of the world. There’s no going back. But if you do, know that God is already out in the water—calling you to Him. “Oh ye of little faith,” He will surely say once you start flailing your arms and calling out for help. But take heart that God will also reach down His hand into the water and pull you up again when you are sinking in your doubt.

This is how you learn to swim. This is faith.

Luke Larsen

LUKE LARSEN

Luke Larsen is tech editor at Paste Magazine, freelance writer extraordinaire, and youth worship leader at Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland, Ore. Tweet at him @lalarsen11.

11 thoughts on “How Doubt Saved My Faith

  1. I am Mrs DONNA LITTLE from Singapore, i want to share a testimony of my life to every one. i was married to my husband Paul Williams, i loved him so much we have been married for 7 years now with three kids. when he went for a vacation to USA he meant a lady called RINA he told me that he is no longer interested in the marriage any more. i was so confuse and seeking for help, i don’t know what to do until I met my friend miss JUAN and told her about my problem. she told me not to worry about it that she had a similar problem before and introduce me to a man called Dr KEKE ODIN who cast a spell on her ex and bring him back to her after 1day. Miss JUAN ask me to contact Dr KEKE. I contacted him to help me bring back my husband and he ask me not to worry about it that the gods of his fore-fathers will fight for me. He told me by two days he will re-unite me and my husband together. After two day my husband called and told me he is coming back to sought out things with me, I was surprise when I saw him and he started crying for forgiveness. Right now I am the happiest woman on earth for what this great spell caster did for me and my husband, you can contact Dr KEKE ODIN on any problem in this world, he is very nice man, here is his contact greatkekespelltemple@gmail.com or call +2348104181322. He is the best spell caster so far i have heard about, once again the email is: greatkekespelltemple@gmail.com 0r call +2348104181322

  2. Someone needs to delete the post by Donna Little. Allowing someone to promote a “spell caster” isn’t exactly something that belongs on a Christian website.

  3. My name is Mr Cardenas,my wife was having affair with a senior secretary in her office. I love this woman so much that i would not want to share her with any body. i told her to retire from the job and i would take care of all her needs but she would take it because she is been embraced by everybody in her office, this normally leads to quarrel every-time. i tried all i can to please her and she will promise to be good , some days later she will turn back to her normal way.
    i was nearly loosing out, i could not focus in my job, my whole life was full of sorrow and i was thinking i should kill the other man my self and put an end to all this until i saw a testimony from a blog on how DR EDIONWE could cast a love spell to bring lovers back no matter what is behind the disappointment. so i decided to write him via email. edionwesolutiontemple@yahoo.com and now all my wishes are exactly as i wanted. She told me everything that has happened secretly in the past and i forgave her as DR EDIONWE instructed me to and she loves me and care for me as i ever wanted. i know there are many spells that do not work but i want to assure all you out there no matter what you have been trough to have faith and believe that this is the final solution to your problem.
    Even if my job is taking most of my time, the little free time i have , i will share the good news to everyone in the world because i know that with love brings happiness and hope for a long life.

  4. I am James from United States, I am a man that have never agreed room to spells or magic in my whole life, but due to my on certain predicament that swiftly befall me and my house hold I had no choice than to look for an alternative, that was how I met Dr. Dele, I was bolt from the blue that all I need from him was given to me, my wife came back to me, with all she took when she ran from the house to abscond with another man, I am so pleased to great Dr. Dele for making me smile again, contact him if you want or have a similar issues with this e-mail: dr.delespiritualtemple@gmail.com

  5. HI My Name is Jennifer , I wish to share my testimonies with the general public about what this man called dr ABULU of( abuluspiritualtemple@yahoo.com has just done for me , this man has just brought back my lost family to me with his great spell, I was married to this man called James we were together for a long time and we loved our self’s but when I was unable to give he a child for 2 years he left me and told me he can’t continue anymore then I was now looking for ways to get he back until a friend of mine told me about this man and gave his contact email abuluspiritualtemple@yahoo.com) then you wont believe this when I contacted this man on my problems he prepared this spell cast and bring my lost husband back and after a month I miss my month and go for a test and the result stated am pregnant am happy today am a mother a baby girl, thank you once again the great ABULU for what you have done for me, if you are out there passing through this same kind of problems you can contact he today on his mail (abuluspiritualtemple@yahoo.com or his website, http://abuluspiritualtemple.webs.com and he will also help you as well.

  6. After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don’t believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called EZE MALAKA and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email:extremewhitelovespell@yahoo. com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU SIR HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS:extremewhitelovespell@yahoo. com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

  7. i want to thank Dr ALuta for bringing back my ex husband, we broke up for more than 4 month and he told me that he never want to see me in his life again. i love him so much to the extend that i could not do any thing again, i was confused and depress due to the love i had for him.i did everything i could do to have him come back to me but all went in vain. so i decided to contact a spell caster, i did not believe in spell casting i just want to try it may be it would work out for me. i contacted dr Aluta for help, he told me that he have to cast a love spell on him, i told him to it. after 5 days my called me and started to apologize for leaving me and also he told me that he still love me. i was very happy and i thank dr aluta for helping get back my ex husband back to my hands. his spell is the the greatest all over the world, it was the love spell he cast on my ex that make him come back to me. all you ladies who want back the ex husband back i want you to contact Dr Aluta at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct at traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com and get your problems solve

  8. After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don’t believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called EZE MALAKA and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: extremewhitelovespell@yahoo.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU SIR HIS WEBSITE ADDRESS is http://extremewhitelovespell.webs.com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

  9. i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my husband have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another lady outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my husband again. this spell caster who was a woman told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so she told me that she was going to make all things normal back. she did the spell on my husband and after 5 days my husband changed completely he even apologize with the way he treated me that he was not him self, i really thank this woman her name is Dr Aluta she have bring back my husband back to me i want you all to contact her who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem she will solve it for you. her email is traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com,

  10. After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don’t believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called EZE MALAKA and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: extremewhitelovespell@yahoo.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU SIR HIS WEBSITE ADDRESS is http://extremewhitelovespell.webs.com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

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