What To Do With Doubts


What To Do With Doubts

My wife and I lived in Dallas, Texas when we our kids were born. It was warm all year round, so we took the kids to playground and parks almost every day. In the Summer, it got excruciatingly hot, so the key was to get out early or late in the evening to avoid the hot parts of the day.

One day we did not follow that advice. We headed outside around noon, the hottest part of the day. Our kids didn’t care about the heat, so they bolted for the playground equipment. They began climbing the stairs so they could enjoy their favorite part of the playground: the slide.

Now if you live in a colder-climate area, this may not occur to you – but when the sun is beating down on the hard plastic of a slide in Texas, the slide gets very hot. It can burn your skin pretty bad. I’ll never forget the squeals and shrieks that we heard from our kids this one particular day. They had shorts on, and as they descended down the slide the sensative part of their back legs rubbed hard and fast against that hot plastic.

They eventually stopped crying… But they did not go down the slide anymore. In fact, it was probably 3 or 4 months before they ever went down a slide again.

Later in the Fall, we were at a playground and I was watching the kids play from a park bench. Suddenly, my two kids cautiously climbed the stairs of a slide. They got to the top, looked at the slide for a while, unsure whether or not they should do it. Other kids were sliding, laughing, and having fun. It appeared safe. Finally, they got up the courage to sit down next to the slide.

But before sliding, they tapped the slide to see if it was hot. Once they knew it felt fine, they both slid down, giggling and smiling. Once at the bottom, they bolted back up the stairs to do it again. However, before going down, they bent over and tapped it again. This thing burned me once, they thought. Maybe it heated up while I was running around down there.

They wanted so bad to believe the slide was safe, but they had doubts.
Thankfully, they didn’t give up on slides altogether. Thankfully they didn’t leave the playground over it.
I’m glad they had just enough faith to tap the slide.

Here’s the lesson we can take away from that story:

When it comes to faith, we all move in and out of doubt.
And it’s OK if you need to tap on the slide.

Three Types of Doubters

When it comes to faith and doubt, there are three kinds of believers out there.
  1. No Doubters
  2. Occasional Doubters
  3. Frequent Doubters


Some of you may not have any doubts at all about your faith. You might say “I believe without a trace of doubt that God is real, and that what He has promised will come true.” You are in the minority. Most of us have doubts. Doubts about the Bible, doubts about God’s promises, doubts of God’s existence, or doubts about God’s calling.

For you, the moral of the story is this: Don’t laugh when the other kids tap on the slide.

Occasional Doubters

Most of us (yes, I include myself here) have occasional doubts.

Do you believe this Bible is true? Yes... Most of the time. Do you believe Jesus died for your sin and resurrected? Yes... Most of the time. Do you believe the Holy Spirit lives within you, empowering you for ministry? Yes... Most of the time. Do you believe God will meet all your needs? You know, that’s a work in progress….

For you, the moral of the story is this: It’s OK if you have to tap on the slide every now and then.

Scripture is filled with doubters: Abraham, John the Baptist, Peter the Apostle, and “Doubting Thomas” to name a few. Follow the example of these folks. Don’t ignore your doubts, and push them out of your mind. That creates a “Pie Crust Faith” – easily made, easily crumbled.

Frequent Doubters

Lastly, some of you are frequent doubters. You have a really hard time believing all this churchy stuff. Maybe you’re a teenager, doubting your faith, but you haven’t mustered the courage to tell your parents that you don’t see value in attending church anymore. Maybe you’re married, but you can’t bring yourself to be honest with your spouse. You want to believe so bad, but you don’t “feel” God and you have so many unanswered questions.

For you, the moral of the story is this: Don’t leave the playground yet.

Here’s why: I have learned that when you leave this playground (i.e. Christianity) there are bigger slides out there.

It can feel hard to believe that there is a personal God, and that this God has tried to communicate with us through a book, through sending Jesus into the world. That’s hard to believe. But it’s even harder to believe that all of us are sitting on this massive rock, spinning and soaring through the universe, with no apparent purpose. You’re probably had this thought before: How could God be real? If you leave the playground, you will have a bigger doubt to wrestle: How could God NOT be real?

So What Should One Do with Her Doubts?

Don’t ignore your doubts, and push them out of your mind. If you do, you will probably have a crisis moment later in life that brings all of those doubts back to the front.

You’ll go off to school and that professor will resurrect those doubts. You’ll suffer a loss, and they will come back fresh. You’ll have a crisis, and all those doubts that you shoved in the back of your mind will come back to the front; they will hold your mind hostage. And in one vulnerable moment, you’ll walk away from the playground. You’ll say, “God isn’t real, this book isn’t real, that was just a crutch I had when I was younger.”

Don’t push your doubts aside. You need to think about your doubts, ruminate, journal, and work through them. You need to be brave enough to climb the ladder and tap on the slide.

Tim Keller gives this advice in his book, The Reason for God:

A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy, or indifferent, to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. (p.xxiii)

When it comes to faith, we all move in and out of doubt.

And it’s OK if you need to tap on the slide.