UNCERTAIN? QUESTIONING? DOUBTFUL?
Watch related video
When we are children, we usually accept what we are taught about faith. As we grow, we realise that life and faith are not black and white, nor always happy and easy. We may become confused or uncertain, or begin to doubt what we have been taught when faced with questions and the realities of life.
Doubt and uncertainty are signs of faith and growth, not lack of faith. It is sometimes said that the opposite of faith is certainty, for certainty closes our minds and hearts to the God who calls us to ever more growth in faith throughout our lives.
To be human is to doubt
Have you heard the story about the islander at a time of great hunger who walked to the seashore in search of food? He was too old to climb a coconut tree, so he tried shaking it to get some fruit. An angry monkey tore off some coconuts and hurled them at the man. He dodged them, picked them up, took them home and lived off them for a few days.
Doubts are a bit like those coconuts. They could kill us but they can also be ways to survive and grow. Psychologists tell us that the most important decisions in our lives – what career to follow, who to marry, whether to have a child – are precisely the ones that we never have enough knowledge to make without doubt. This is because we cannot see the future – we will change, our spouse and children will change.
We will suffer distress, anxiety and doubt, whether through physical illness or injury, betrayal or loss of friends or partners, loneliness, mental health issues or serious ethical or many other life decisions. We bring to these life situations all that is in our genetics, upbringing, culture, gifts, education and faith.
Our faith in a God who is good, and desires our good, helps us to know that we are here because of love, and to believe that love will always prevail. We will make mistakes and encounter difficulties, but through these we will learn and grow.
In order to hold the fullness of life which Jesus promises us, we must also learn to live into the doubts, darkness and questions. These often difficult spaces are actually the birthplaces of true growth and love.
What the Church says...
One thing that shines out most vividly in the gospels is that people followed Jesus because of personal belief in him and his love for them. We see this even when they could not understand his teachings. So many of his followers left him when he told them they must eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:66) and he then asked the disciples if they too would leave him. Peter’s answer –“Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68) – shows us that personal faith is the bedrock of our belief.
What the Bible says...
“He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, and he said to them, ‘The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.’
He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. ‘Father,’ he prayed, ‘my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want’” (Mark 14:33-36). My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” (Mark 15:34).
How to cope in times of doubt
Remember doubt is normal. Even the greatest saints lived through these, and grew because of them. They may be a time of letting go of our reliance on other people’s support and opinions, to trust more in our own relationship with God.
However, because doubts are so common, do not hesitate to share them freely with your mentors, priest or minister. Often just talking about them will see them fade away.
Finally, use the beautiful gift of imagination that God has given each one of us. See yourself in Thomas’ place; put your hand on the scar in Jesus’ glorious side. Feel the strength and love that pours out of Jesus and allow your doubts to be wiped away by the power of that love.
A prayer to St Thomas the Apostle
O Glorious Saint Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe He had risen unless you actually saw Him and touched His wounds.
But your love for Jesus was equally great and it led you to give up your life for Him.
Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins which were the cause of Christ’s sufferings.
Help us to give ourselves in His service and so earn the title of “blessed” which Jesus applied to those who would believe in Him without seeing Him.
Watch related video
MORE VIDEOS COMING...
GET THE Book
Identity:Identified contains 24 inserts and highlighting of key passages within the New Testament that are designed to help teenagers navigate life’s challenges with ways to identify why God created each one of us in the unique way He did.
This book also has a number of QR codes that link to a series of special videos that have numerous people sharing their stories and how they cope with life.
This is the perfect tool to help the younger generation in your life to follow Jesus as they navigate the challenges of life and trust him as a true friend and companion.