When I was 22 and recently married, I faced a time of extreme doubt. I was fresh out of college with a BA in philosophy and ready to take on grad school at SWBTS. Yet in the midst of preparing for the academic journey, God seemed silent and distant and missing. This went on for months (in hindsight, roughly 9 months) with no relief, just a leaden sky. One way of describing this experience is that in a similar way it was like Descartes’ use of doubt to find that place of certainty, but not voluntarily so.One day this spiritual drought ended and the one place that I found as unshakeable was the cross of Christ. The historical reality and spiritual significance of that event gave me courage to move on with my spiritual journey. That defining moment in my life, that moment of great clarity I may never forget, especially since I remember standing in the kitchen of my apartment, shaken to my core.
I doubted but began to believe again. If I could not doubt the cross, I could not doubt the resurrection. If I could not doubt the resurrection, I could not doubt his ascension. If I could not doubt his ascension, I could not doubt the giving of the Spirit on Pentecost. The narrative of the church from before creation to now, was the story I was involved in now. That moment of being shaken was the beginning of a work that, however haltingly it proceeds, is necessary for Christ to be formed in me.
Yet, this spiritual formation of Christ in my life is not for me alone but for his bride, the church. It is Christ in the community that is paramount. The work of the cross in my life has been limited by my despising the body that Christ seeks to bring life. I nursed some deep anger, bitterness and disappointment because of the expectations of some brothers. I was stubborn for far too long. I was still doubting but in a different way. I doubted that the Spirit of God could work in others like She was in me. I had expectations that were shattered and this threw me off balance. I doubted the freedom God has to work through whom and in whom He desired. I am slowly beginning to see the body of Christ with new eyes. For that I am grateful to God.
I still doubt but I still have faith. The doubt is my own, the faith is from God. I am beginning to trust in God in ways I never imagined. I believe in the cross of Christ and His resurrection from the dead. I believe in His church that is called to be His bride, body and temple. Though I doubt, I will trust the One who died and reconciled the world to God. Though I doubt, I will trust God’s grace even in the midst of my unbelief. The love of God is greater than any doubt. One day doubt will fade away. But in the meantime, doubt can purify and temper our faith. In some instances, it may be doubt that drives us to total abandonment to God.
Grace and peace,