Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Is it OK for a Christian to Have Doubts? Part 2 of an interview with Shelby Abbott, Author of DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard


Doubt should not scare Christians, nor should it become their obsession. In his book, DoubtLess: Because Faith is HardShelby Abbott urges readers to see the difference between doubt and unbelief, assuring them that big questions can press them deeper into the heart and character of God rather than push them away from him. He reminds readers that Scripture recounts the stories of many men and women who have also faced deep misgivings and uncertainty in their walk of faith.
 
Used for biblical reflection, group discussion, and devotional reading, DoubtLess is full of gospel hope for those grappling with the mysteries of faith.

Part 2 of an interview with Shelby Abbott,
Author of DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard

Q: As Christians, our doubts usually scare us. Is it OK to have doubts from time to time?
 
Yes, of course. Having doubts as a believer is a normal part of the Christian life. I think they usually scare us, however, because we’re afraid of what our doubts might mean. I think there’s a lot of fear that can flood into our lives when doubt comes along because our doubts might question God’s goodness, sovereignty, mercy, grace, and even existence.
 
But doubt is a natural part of the Christian experience and can be the avenue God chooses to use to draw us closer to himself, not push us further away. I like to personify doubt and say that he should be a houseguest in the home of your heart, not a permanent resident. Houseguests come in and can shake up things in your life for a time, but they are not meant to set up and live there forever. Eventually they need to pack up and leave.
 
Q: Normally when doubt starts to creep in, we get anxious and stressed, but you write that we should stay calm. Why?
 
Anxiety never leads to anything good. It’s like a rocking horse—you spend lots of time and energy going back and forth, but you get absolutely nowhere. Instead of letting doubt distress your life, approach it with faith which can actually lead to something constructive. Faith brings peace, anxiety brings turmoil. Faith draws us closer to God, while worry because of doubt leads us away from God and focuses on our circumstances. Faith changes things, while anxiety changes nothing.
 
There are great and satisfying answers to our questions about God if we take the time to intentionally go after them instead of letting doubt sideline us in a pit of anxiety.
 
Q: What does the Bible say about doubt? How does God feel about it?
 
Plenty...and God is very accustomed to living in relationship with doubters. The Psalms, for example, give us permission to beat on God’s chest in a way that leads by visceral example. Over and over again in the Psalms, we see the authors wrestle very honestly with God and even accuse him of various things...and God allowed those wrestling matches to live on display for us in His Word.
 
In the New Testament, Mark 9 gives us a great example of how Jesus himself deals with doubt. The father of a demon-possessed boy comes to Christ and asks him to heal his son if he’s able. Eventually, the father cries out to Jesus, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Then, Jesus heals the boy. Jesus doesn’t scold the father for his doubt, nor chastise him because can’t fully believe in his ability to heal his son. The father admits there is an element of doubt in his heart, and that he needs help. If anything, Jesus rewards the man for his honesty. This parent needed Christ’s help in the midst of doubt, and help was, of course, extended to him.
 
Another great example is in the person of John the Baptist. John baptized Jesus, and when he did, the Spirit of God descended on Christ, and the audible voice of God the Father said, “This is my Son.” Yet at the end of his life, John himself had his doubts about who Jesus really was. When he was in prison, John sent a few of his disciples to ask Christ if he was the one or if they should be looking for another. After hearing the audible voice of God from the sky, John the Baptist still doubted that Jesus was the Messiah. I know it might seem strange, but I’m oddly comforted by John’s doubt. If he could admit it plainly—to the point it’s recorded in Scripture—I certainly have the liberty to doubt and be honest about it too.
 
Q: For someone wrestling with doubt, how should they seek out someone to talk to about their questions? Where should they go to find a safe place to ask questions?
 
Look to a trusted friend, family member, ministry leader, or church mentor—someone who won’t recoil at the idea that you are wrestling with doubt. Someone who knows that doubts have the ability to make our faith stronger, not weaker. Someone who isn’t afraid that you are asking tough questions that work your faith muscles out in a way that they’d never be worked out by avoiding important questions/doubts.
 
I’ve found that if tough questions don’t get asked now, they will eventually bubble to the surface in the future, so get with someone you trust and ask the hard questions you struggle with now—they probably aren’t going to go away. We shouldn’t fear questions and doubts as believers...we should embrace them as a gift of grace acting not as a stiff-arm from God, but an invitation to come and seek Him. There is great joy in the journey when we have someone to help us along the way.

DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard
by Shelby Abbott
August 17, 2020 / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN 978-1-645070-75-7
Religion / Christian Ministry / Young Adult

About the author
Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States.
 
Abbott is the author of Jacked, I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), and Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress. His latest release is DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
 
Readers can find Abbott online at www.shelbyabbott.com, on Facebook (shelby.abbott.98)Twitter (@shelbyabbott) and Instagram (@shelbyabbott).



 

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