It’s OK to Doubt
Jesus appeared to the disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands, look at my feet – it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” He showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true. Luke 24: 36b-41 The Message
The disciples doubted. The resurrection did not make sense to them. Ever since the first Easter, people have doubted the resurrection. It is not logical. It is outside the experience of even the followers of Jesus. Doubts about other teachings of the church are also the norm and have turned many people away from the Christian faith because some proclaim that you must believe everything in order to be a good Christian.
Katherine Norris writes in “Amazing Grace:”
“When I first stumbled upon the Benedictine abbey I was surprised to find the monks so unconcerned with my weighty doubts and intellectual frustrations over Christianity. What interested them more was my desire to come to their worship, the liturgy of the hours. I was a bit disappointed- I had thought that my doubts were spectacular obstacles to my faith and was confused but intrigued when an old monk blithely stated that doubt is merely the seed of faith, a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow. I am grateful now for his wisdom and grateful to the community for teaching me about the power of liturgy. They seemed to believe that if I just kept coming to worship, kept coming home, things would eventually fall into place….
I gradually came to realize that believing is more process than product, and is not a goal- oriented activity. There is no time limit. And if some words or concepts that I recognize as part of my Christian heritage but which I may never comprehend in any meaningful way remain so, I can live with it. I now can let them be without fully understanding the how or why.”
Anne Bronte wrote in 1846 “The Doubter’s Prayer.” Let us pray together:
While faith is with me, I am best;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But, while I clasp it to my breast,
I often feel it slide away….
What shall I do if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away?
And if there be no God above
To hear and bless me when I pray?
Oh, help me, God! For thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve.
Forsake it not; it is thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe. Amen
Let doubt stretch your spiritual journey and lead you to a greater dependence on the guidance of God.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.