The benefits of our doubts about God

Published 12:45 pm Saturday, July 21, 2018

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 various 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 if, while they are suffering, maybe in the wee hours of the morning when pain shouts so loud, they may question God about why this is happening to them. But, 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, and they can tell you about times when God seems distant. At times, I feel like my prayers do not rise above the ceiling.

I’ve read about a 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,” Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, says of Mother Teresa. He stresses that her belief in God never wavered.

“Doubt is natural within faith. It comes because of our human weakness and frailty,” states theologian Alister McGrath, “Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no God. It is a deliberate decision to reject Jesus Christ and all that he stands for. But doubt is something quite different. Doubt arises within the context the faith. It is a wistful longing to be sure of the things in which we trust.”

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).

Jude 22 says, “Be merciful to those who doubt.” There’s a song that suggests how to trust God when circumstances suggest doubt, “When you don’t understand. When you can’t see His plan. When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”


Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at