Devotional Thought: When the Answers and the Truth Take Different Sides
One of the defining moments for my faith came my freshman year of college at a floor Bible study. We had a guest speaker that week, standing six feet four inches and tipping the scale over three hundred pounds, our All-American football player was looked up to for more than just his size. He was well respected for both his football prowess and his spiritual maturity, which was why I was startled when he chronicled the list of doubts he had during his time at college. I couldn’t believe this giant—physically and spiritually—would question whether the Bible was trustworthy, if Jesus really claimed to be God, or if God even existed for that matter. Good Christians aren’t supposed to have doubts.
More recently I have been struck by the lyrics of a Needtobreath song. While pleading with God to be real during a time of hardship, the artist makes the potent statement that, sometimes in the storms of life, “the answers and the truth take different sides.” The cliché, easy solutions to life’s problems that we have been given—the “answers”—don’t always match up with what reality seems to be. This dilemma has led many to question the validity of their faith, and some to drop it altogether. But, contrary to what some would say, I don’t think the problem is that we allow doubts to creep in, I believe it is that we don’t face doubts head on.
Evangelicalism has created a comfortable sub-culture in which, for many people, there is never any reason to question or doubt. Until things start to come unraveled. And when the unraveling comes there isn’t a strong enough foundation for faith to stand on, leading some to depart belief entirely. As a culture we have been fed a slew of “easy answers,” but the truth is often more complicated and messy than our pre-fabricated answers allow room for. If we are going to seek truth, however, we need to recognize that the path to truth is often riddled with doubts.
Every doubt and doubter is different. Some doubt because of an intellectual hurdle, others because of an emotional dryness. Whatever the source, though, the Church must learn to walk along side the doubter, and to some extent, affirm what they are going through. It is nearly impossible to have a mature faith without working through doubts at some point. The important thing, though, is that we work through our doubts. It can be terrifying to question issues of ultimate importance, which is precisely why someone experiencing doubts needs a community who loves them. But too often we don’t allow people in our midst to express their doubt, because it reveals the deep-seated insecurity in our own hearts.
The answer to the doubt will depend on the question, but I am fully confident that anyone who honestly seeks will find the answer to be on the side of Truth. It is not a sin to doubt, and we should not reject those in our midst who experience doubt. We should encourage them to build a faith not on easy answers or cliché expressions, but on the bedrock of a relationship with Jesus. When doubts come, and come they will, if we already have experienced the presence of Christ we can fall back into His arms knowing He has already provided the answer to our question: His love, presence, and atoning sacrifice.
John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”