Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Psalm 42:11 (NIV)
If you are struggling with doubt, here are three important things to keep in mind:
Start with the diagnosis. Your priority is to identify the root cause or causes. Different kinds of doubt should be treated in different ways, because doubts often have more than one root cause. We are complex, and someone with a deficient foundation may also have disappointed hopes. In this case, it is important that both dimensions of the doubt be addressed.
Persevere with the prescription. Spiritual disciplines are not instant pain killers. They have a gradual and increasing effect over a long period of time. Establish a pattern of meditating on God’s description of Himself for ten minutes a day and you will gradually replace the distorted images you carried before. Bring your disappointment to God with all the force you feel within your soul, and you will find a greater sense of peace ‘sneaking up’ on you.
Anticipate the struggle. The Christian life is a journey upstream against the currents of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Over the next ten years, you will have new fears to face, new disappointments to navigate, new distortions to address, and new commitments to be made. In all these situations, you will face new questions that will challenge your faith.
In this world you never have faith without questions, for the simple reason God has not given all the answers. You can draw strength from the fact you are walking on a pathway marked out by generations of Christians before.
David walked with God, but he struggled with great questions. He eventually came to the place where he could tell himself: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (42:11).
Which of these is most helpful to you right now?