Cherishing our Doubts

Rejoice in the help our doubts give us. They help us keep questioning and learning and discovering and growing.

Yme Woensdregt

I came across a blog post a few weeks ago which caused me to stop and reflect. The author was saying that if we take the notion of faith seriously as “trust in relationship,” then there will always be an element of doubt in our faith. After all, he said, faith is not certainty. Faith is a deep trust that something is true.

The author calls this “being an agnostic Christian.” He believes that the kinds of questions we all ask ought to make us stop and wonder about the truth of some of the claims we make as people of faith. Questions like “Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why is it necessary for there to be so much pain in the world? How can we know what God really wants from us? Does God really interact with the world? If so, how does it happen?” And so on.

I agree with him that these kinds of questions are a necessary part of what it means to be human. We can’t help but wonder sometimes about how all that goes on in the world squares with our faith. If you don’t sometimes have doubts, then you are either in denial and pushing them down so deeply that you have lost touch with them, or you have rationalized the conflict in some way for yourself.

I am reminded of that wonderful story about the person we call “doubting Thomas.” The story goes like this in the Gospel of John — just after Jesus has been crucified, he comes back to visit the disciples. Thomas isn’t with them. When he comes back, his friends can’t wait to tell him about what happened.

Now let me ask you … if you were Thomas and had watched Jesus die this agonizing death, could you believe that he somehow had come back to life? I know I would have had a tough time swallowing that story. I would have thought it much more likely that my other friends had lost their marbles. Jesus was dead! There’s no way he could come back to life.

Which is exactly what Thomas tells the other 11 disciples. “Unless I see him with my own eyes, unless I touch him with my own hands, unless I can hear and smell him, I just can’t believe it. It’s not possible!”

The story continues that Jesus comes back a week later. He steps over to Thomas and says, “Go ahead, Thomas. Touch me. Doubt no longer.”

As I imagine that scene, I don’t see Jesus as being angry at Thomas in the least. Rather, I imagine Jesus’ face wreathed in a small smile, his voice gentle and loving as he reaches out to Thomas who needs this reassurance.

Now, I don’t think the Gospel of John is reporting an actual historical incident here. This is a story which tells a deeper truth, namely that “Blessed are all those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

I think this is exactly the point the blog author was making … that the way we see the world has to do with what or whom we trust (which is what “believe” in the Bible usually means).

For me personally, this means that I believe in, I trust, a God who renews life in the midst of death, who provides hope in the midst of distress, who invites us to be light in the darkness of the world so that we shine with the reflected light of God’s compassion.

That trust is what gives my life meaning and purpose. It is not about believing a set of doctrines. It about finding life in the midst of a relationship which, like any other relationship, ebbs and flows.

So even as I believe that God is the God of life, sometimes in the midst of all the death in this world, I wonder. I sometimes doubt, wondering if the light of life will ever be seen in all the darkness. Even as I believe that God calls us to reach out to other people in grace and compassion, I wonder sometimes if it really makes a difference.

I cherish those doubts, because they keep my faith alive and active. Frederick Buechner once said that “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith; they keep it awake and moving.”

So I say, cherish your doubts, for doubt is the welcome attendant of truth. A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for every belief is incomplete and imperfect. Do not fear to doubt and seek for a deeper truth; doubt will never consume the truth.

I read somewhere once that those that would silence doubt are filled with fear; their houses are built on shifting sands; but those who fear not doubt, and know its use; are founded on rock.

So do not fear doubt. Rather, rejoice in the help our doubts give us. They help us keep questioning and learning and discovering and growing.

Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the attendant of truth.

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook.

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey show steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Supporters — and shoppers — lined up waiting at the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South, waiting for the doors to open on the store's first day of operations since the pandemic forced its closure. (Photo courtesy Kate Fox)
CHCA Thrift Store re-opens in Cranbrook

After a closure of 15 months, due to the pandemic, the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South has once again opened its doors for business.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read