Do you ever struggle with your faith? I mean overall you believe but sometimes you wrestle with doubts about God and heaven?
I do. My faith can be very leaky.
We had dinner with friends a few weeks ago and afterwards sat on the restaurant patio enjoying the mild summer evening.
Our wives sat off to the side chatting. My friend said, “You know I’ve believed in God for years but sometimes my mind just starts racing trying to analyze it all. Then I get confused and start feeling doubts. I really struggle with it. Do you ever have that happen?”
I replied, “Yep. I have an analytical mind so I need to put everything together logically.”
“Sometimes faith just doesn’t seem to fit very well.”
“Some people, like my wife, just have more of a tendency to believe. And frankly I envy her at times.”
“I, on the other hand, need to analyze everything. Sometimes that creates problems.”
“I’ve seen God work miracles in my life and the lives of people I know. Yet, when standing at the graveside of a loved one I can be ravaged with doubts.”
He replied, “That’s exactly how I feel.”
I’ve talked with enough other people that I know we’re not alone in this either.
So why does this make a difference?
I’ve found when my faith is strong life takes on an amazing character.
At the core we have an indescribable peace. We’re filled with a peace that goes beyond what’s happening in our lives.
We’re filled with confidence that God is with us, helping us, no matter what we face. That confidence unleashes an ability to overcome almost anything.
We gain assurance that we’ll see our loved ones we’ve lost again. Sure we grieve. But we grieve with hope and anticipation.
Finally there’s a joy that flows out of starting our day with confidence and gratitude.
It’s what Paul promises, “God will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Then you’ll overflow with hope.”
So how can you put on this faith when you struggle with doubts?
I’ve found I need to proactively build it.
I love the response of a man after Jesus promised him a miracle if he only believed.
He replied, “I do believe, help me in my unbelief.”
That’s my heart’s cry often. And I’ve learned what helps me receive the answer.
First, frankly admit your doubts.
Accept your struggle. Stop pretending it doesn’t exist. Be honest with yourself and God.
God can only help you when you first admit you need help.
Second, ask God to help you.
He’s not mad at you. He understands you better than you understand yourself.
So when you ask, “Please help me in my unbelief” he’s pleased.
Third, talk to others whose faith at that moment is stronger than yours.
Jennifer is that person for me most of the time. She has a natural calm faith that keeps my wild undulating mind grounded.
For you that may be a fellowship group at church, a close friend or your spouse.
Cultivate that friendship of faith. Because there’ll be times when you each need the other.
In the midst of your doubts a close friend speaking words of faith can bring the light you need.
Fourth, read God’s word.
Of course go to church and read popular Christian books. But realize there’s something powerful about reading God’s word directly.
And not only read it when you’re facing a storm but read it every day to keep your tank filled up.
I’ve found often when I’m filled with doubts if I just spend some time reading God’s word casually, not as a Bible study, the doubts lessen and the clouds start to separate. Then the first rays of dawn break into my night.
Fifth, read good faith building books.
There are great authors who specialize in writing that builds faith. Read them and let their words sink in.
I have favorites who I read and often reread their books which settle my soul. It makes all the difference.
Sixth, give it time.
Realize faith takes time to grow. Strong faith doesn’t come instantaneously. It results from a lot of little efforts over a period of time.
So give yourself time to grow. Just keep building it.
In time you’ll realize your faith has grown strong day by day, piece by piece.
Finally, seventh, take a break.
Sometimes our doubts are caused because we’re exhausted. Maybe from working too hard or from grieving so much. When we’re worn out our challenges seem so much bigger and our faith feels so much smaller.
Often the best remedy is to simply step out of the fray for a bit. Get away. Relax. Sleep. Play. Laugh. Celebrate.
It’s amazing how much stronger we feel when we’re rested.
Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing the word of and words about Jesus.”
I think that summarizes most of this.
Try it and see if it helps your faith grow.
What helps you strengthen your faith in times of doubt?
*Romans 15: 13; Mark 9: 23-24; Romans 10: 17
Photo Credit: K. Kendall; Creative Commons