Doubts help us develop deeper faith

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2011

Several people I know are battling cancer, and cancer seems to be winning – at least for now.

Watching them fight this disease as it attacks other areas of their bodies makes me feel helpless. All I know to do is to continue to pray for them because, like me, they believe in the power of prayer.

But sometimes I wonder while they are suffering, maybe in the wee hours of the morning when pain shouts so loud, if they may question God about why this is happening to them.  Suffering is not the only thing that can cause Christians to doubt God’s action.

Talk to anyone who knows God through a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, about times when God seems distant. I’ve read about a new book containing a collection of Mother Teresa’s personal letters. She never intended for her letters to be published.  In fact, she had asked that they be destroyed after her death.

Her letters reveal her spiritual struggle through her years in India. In one letter, she’d written, “I came to India with the desire to love Jesus as he has never been loved before.”  Mother Teresa – described as a simple, pious woman – worked many years in the slums of Calcutta helping the poorest of the poor. But, even she experienced times when God seemed far away.

“It’s one thing to feel that God is not with you. It’s another thing to believe that God doesn’t exist,” the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, says of Mother Teresa.  He stresses that her belief in God never wavered.

Martin Luther, a 14th century leader of the Protestant Reformation, experienced times of doubt. He once wrote, “God often, as it were hides himself, and will not hear; yea, will not suffer himself to be found.”

Henry Drummond, a Scottish author and evangelist, once said, “Christ never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is can’t believe; unbelief is won’t believe.  Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.”

Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, earned the nickname, “Doubting Thomas,” because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection since he wasn’t in the room when Jesus appeared to the disciples for the first time. But eight days later, Thomas was with the disciples in a room with the doors shut when Jesus appeared again, and said, “Peace be unto you” (John 20:26).

Helen Keller has written, “It need not discourage us if we are full of doubts.  Healthy questions keep faith dynamic. Unless we start with doubts we cannot have a deep-rooted faith…He who has faith which is not to be shaken has won it through blood and tears – has worked his way from doubt to truth as one who reaches a clearing through a thicket of brambles and thorns.”

There’s a song that answers questions caused by doubt, “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”