I am currently reading Brian McLaren’s new book, “Faith After Doubt” (2021). In the introduction Brian reminds readers that most people of faith go through times of questioning, including pastors. It happens for many different reasons, at different points along the journey. Sometimes it happens in college when we get challenged by a respected professor. Or perhaps we see the behavior of someone who has been saying their faith is important to them but their life doesn’t reflect it. Or our experience and first-hand knowledge contradicts what we have always believed. Then doubts and questions arise.
- Why don’t we share them? There are a lot of reasons, maybe…
- We want to appear to have it all together.
- We feel like we are supposed to have all the answers.
- We are afraid of what our friends and family will think of us.
- Doubt finds each of us at different times and in different ways!
In seminary, I came to the conclusion that the more I studied and read the more questions I had. I believe most of us are constantly surrounded by unanswered questions – not just about God. We wonder…
Whether our kids (us too) will make it through these difficult teenage years?
- Will our love-one or best friend make it through their battle with addiction?
- What is on the other side of a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer?
- Why didn’t God do __________________ for me?
When we are in those moments… we don’t want someone else’s answers or someone else’s opinion, because one more opinion just creates more anxiety. What we really long for is knowing we are not alone. We want to know, we are not the only one feeling this way or has had these questions, these doubts, and that someone has made it through. Someone we know has endure the anxiety, worries, and sleepless nights. We long to meet another pastor, another teenager, another parent, another coworker, another cancer survivor who won’t try to fix it, but acknowledges, “that must be really tough.” And hopefully soon a hug as well.
I know their presence doesn’t take a way the question or resolve our fear, but it reminds us that someone else is with us on the journey.
One of the best things we can do in the church and in our community is break down the facade, stop pretending we got it all together, and know all the answers. Instead acknowledge the complexity of our world and enter into the ambiguity with the hurting people around us. Let’s not be afraid to say, “I don’t know what you are feeling, but what I do know is you don’t have to go through it alone.” Let’s take away the shame and guilt of having questions and doubts. They aren’t looking for quick fixes or answers, they need a good friend.
Consider this quote from Bob Goff, “No one going to believe any of your answers, if we don’t let them know we have a couple questions too.”
I wonder who around you needs a hug and a reminder that you’re with them? Who needs to know doubts are normal, but the good news is we don’t have to face them alone?
Don’t forget to invite a friend to Easter Worship at 9 AM online or 10:45 AM outdoors.