“If the absence of doubt was a prerequisite to be used by God, Mary could not have been the Mother of Jesus.”
- Pastor Steven Furtick
Moving back to Nigeria, I was concerned about how I would cope with our heavily religious culture. I was concerned that I would become cynical, stop going to church because I would only see the negatives in it and lose my faith. I was concerned because I love my faith-it is the essence of who I am. Religion isn’t bad; it brings structure. It shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all but when practised mindlessly, it can be.
My concern was the fact that as Nigerians and being human, we carry Church and religion on our heads but are we allowing God change us? What are our heart postures like? Is church filled with people who are kind and genuinely after more of Jesus? I’m not writing this from a pedestal of self-righteousness because He knows I’m far from perfect. My faith journey is one where I’m continuously shifting to a focus on my relationship with God and detachement from going through the motions. Detachment from self-delusion of holding up some plastic image of ‘being a Christian’.
I’ve always found it odd that in all our talk about God, it’s a rarity to hear a message about the doubt that comes with working out our salvation. There are certain preachers whose understanding of Christianity I enjoy listening to/reading because they speak relatable truths about their faith journeys which I need to hear to encourage me on mine. Steven Furtick, Mike Todd and Sarah Jakes Roberts are three that come to mind immediately. In this video of Steven preaching on faith and doubt, he makes it clear that doubt is a part of our faith journey and I agree.
I think it’s very intentional that the Bible highlights on people’s doubt during their walks with God and Jesus. Abraham and Sarah doubted. Thomas was literally named ‘The Doubter’. That didn’t stop God from using their stories to bring glory to His Name. It didn’t stop God from blessing them. We can’t put God in a box by placing our fear of asking questions above His power to work in our lives in the same space where our doubt exists. God can handle our humanness. God can use that mustard seed of faith.
“If you don’t doubt, you’re not reading it (The Bible) or you’re reading it with no intention to live it.”
“My doubt is the evidence of my growth. The closer I get, the more doubts I have.”
-(both) Pastor Steven Furtick
I have endless questions about The Bible yet I still love it; these two truth are not mutually exclusive. I have wonders about what I feel is the subjectivity of heaven and hell. I have many 'whys' about the disparity and pain we see in our world. I have these questions. I wrestle with them because I refuse to allow them to be full stops in my faith journey. I need God. I love Him because He has been a good God in my life. He is a good God. I need His love. I am the best version of myself in His presence.
I see the questions as commas or semi-colons, even. They teach me more, they lead me not to a destination but further down the road. Deeper into this walk with the closest friend I will ever know.
I’m working on asking myself the honest question
“Have you taken this doubt to God?”
He is the only one who can answer our questions. His answers might not come right now. They will not come in the way we may want them to because God is sovereign. They do and will come in the way He knows His daughter, His son - you - will understand and with what you need to know at particular times.
I had dinner with a dear Aunt of mine last week. During dinner, I spoke about the depth of these doubts openly for what I think was the first time. She listened because she has opened up to me about her doubts on her faith journey in the past. She wasn't in denial and didn't give me some sappy blasé answer like 'God knows best' or 'It is well'. She said to me that progress is important in our faith journeys.
So, doubt. Ask questions. Wonder. God can handle it and honestly, I feel that He welcomes it. Just make sure that there is progress.