Let’s be honest, we’re not enjoying the way the world is at the moment, are we? Not gathering as the church, kids not going to school and not seeing their friends, not getting together with our own adult friends, the inability to travel and see family, friends, or far-off lands. Honestly, not many people can say they are 100% happy with the world right now. This also makes us doubt, doesn’t it? Why is this happening, is this consistent with a good and loving God? How do I feel about all of this?
So is it ok to doubt? As a Christian, is it ok to doubt? Honestly, it depends.
There are different kinds of doubt, and whether it’s ok to entertain them depends on the particular type of doubt. Let’s break them down.
There are doubts of the will. Example – do I want to follow Jesus? Do I want to do this or that?
To this, the Bible has a strong response – James 1.5-8 says
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
There are doubts of the mind. Example – can this be proven? Do I understand this?
To this, the Bible has a softer response – Isaiah 1.18 says
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
Then, there are doubts of the emotion. Example – how do I feel about this?
In the latter stages of his short letter, Jude is writing specifically about those caught under false teaching, to those who are being taught things to make them feel differently about their faith. He writes,
…have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Jude is talking, it seems, about doubts of the emotion – how do I feel about all of this?
Doubts of the will, doubts of the mind, and doubts of the emotions.
Doubt is human and doubt is universal, says Os Guinness. We live in a broken world and to doubt how we feel about it all is sadly just a part of life. We are going to question how we feel about things on an almost daily basis. Maybe how you feel about COVID-19 and its impact on the world changes daily. That’s ok.
Doubt, inherently, isn’t a bad thing.
Psalm 73 also speaks of the response to doubts of the heart.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
So, is it ok to have moments of doubt? Yes, absolutely.
Your feelings will change on all manner of things, maybe daily. When we come across people who hold a different opinion to us, when we come across people who are feeling differently about things to us, when we come across people who doubt things we don’t, Jude tells us to have mercy on those who doubt.
Author Charles Hummel said that a stronger faith can emerge through doubt. It’s ok to doubt how you feel about things, change how you feel about things. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian if your feelings and emotions change on a topic back-and-forth. You learn some more, you feel differently about something. You feel differently about something, so you learn some more, and so on and so forth. The key for you as a believer will be to always and forever filter everything through the lens of Jesus, Jesus who never changes (Hebrews 13.8, John 8.58). Our desire to follow an unchanging and eternal God in an ever-changing world must never be doubted.
COVID may have you doubting how you feel about certain things, it may have you doubting how much you know about certain things, but, Christian, COVID should never have you doubting if you want to follow Jesus through all things.