Growing Faith in Seasons of Doubt

Have you been taught to believe that doubt is a friend or an enemy of faith? Do you know Christians who have protected themselves against seasons of doubt by resisting any challenges to their theological framework?

What should we do when we encounter doubt as disciples of Jesus?

In the following video, I respond to a question about seasons of doubt. I believe that the experience of doubt can be a great opportunity for spiritual growth and the cultivation of a deeper faith in Christ.

Are you in a season of doubt? Was this video helpful? How have you experienced spiritual growth by working through seasons of doubt? Think about sharing your story with others who need to hear it. 

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

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About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David was in student ministry for 7 years, taught Biblical Studies & Latin at The Woodlands Christian Academy for 5 years, and now pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. View all posts by David D. Flowers

21 responses to “Growing Faith in Seasons of Doubt

  • Thomas Arvidsson

    Thanks David!
    When I think about doubt and times of challenge I think of Jakob at the river of Jabbok (that’s what it’s called in the swedish bible anyhow…).
    When Jakob is wrestling with, yeah, maybe God himself – I think that is a helpful story. There is one specific thing about wrestling with God – and that is that you can’t do it at a distance. You need to get close. And I think that is what a good wrestling with God and your faith will lead you – closer to Him. Though you might get marked for life (as Jakob were). But after the wrestling Jakob met the sunrise…

  • Ty

    The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty. Certainty is too often wielded as a sword that cuts at and wounds the heart of another. When their experiences in the world don’t line up with the flattened view of an emotionless platitude, pain is not far behind.

    For times of doubt, I’ve found it most helpful to look at the Psalms of Lament in which the troubles and chaos of the world are acknowledged rather than swept under the rug of westernized overconfidence. One of the oldest stories in the Bible is one that legitimizes doubt; the story of Job.

    Maybe a more accurate way to describe “doubt” is that it is a complaint to God about the seemingly poor job he’s doing in managing the world he created and loves. It’s a beseeching of him to remember his promises to take care of his people, lest others speak poorly of him, lest we forget to praise him.

  • Carlos Lozano

    Interesting. Suggestive. Comforting.

  • Chuck

    Excellent. I agree. The person that does not doubt is either dead or in denial. Doubt should never be seen as the opposite of faith.

  • Lydia Goossens

    Hmm…for some reason my comment didn’t take previously.

    Thanks, David. This is encouraging. I agree that doubt can propel us towards growing closer in relationship with Christ and that God wants for us to wrestle with him over thoughts/feelings/beliefs. Some types of doubting might be more terrifying than others (such as doubting salvation); some doubt can be brought on by having expectations of one’s self that God never asked.

    All I know at times is to trust that God remembers that we’re but dust and to work through and submit feelings/thoughts/things to God as they come up rather than on expecting myself to presently have the future faith, perspective, or grace that I might need for things to come. I have been through some dark nights of the soul and feel like I have been coming out of one. The mystery of God has been resonating with me for quite some time and is resonating even more so after the last couple of postings.

    Something that I believe God put in my mind in this past season was, “Search the shadows.”

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Lydia, I never received a previous comment. :-)

      You’re right. There are different forms of doubt. I tried to speak to doubt in a general way. I do know folks that have doubted their salvation at some point. Earlier in her life my own wife was deeply troubled over it for a season. I have found that this sort of “doubt” is largely due to fear and a misunderstanding of God’s favor in Christ. The reasons range from bad preaching to the individual’s personality.

      I like that, “search the shadows.” Keep embracing the mystery and rest in his love for you, clearly expressed in Jesus. I’m glad to help with your questions.

    • Barry

      Hi Lydia… Ps 30:5 says, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Doubt can seem to be shadowy and full of darkness. It’s like a long bleak and dark night, or a long shadowy, dreary season. But the scripture says joy comes in the morning. If you watch and wait and listen, The Lord WILL come through. You will hear Him and see Him work. It will be like the sun rising in the morning after the treacherous and fearful dark night. His presence, His answer is like the sunshine in the morning or after the stormy cold season that will drive away the fear and doubt. As the sun warms your skin, the joy that comes from Him will warm your heart and is the remedy that drives away the darkness of doubt. Be patient, as sometimes the nights are long. But the sun – or His joy will ALWAYS come in due time.

  • Barry

    Faith is incredibly hard at times. It seems that hard times of faith come during hard times we face in our lives as we wonder where God is in all this, or why He won’t solve a problem to our preference. I’m not talking about menial situations, but dire and serious situations where people’s lives, including our own are being crushed. These are times that are not only hard, but confusing. In Luke 17, Jesus was and had been for a while telling the disciples “hard sayings”. In the midst of that, the disciples exclaimed, Lk 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He went on to explain faith, and then went on talking more hard sayings. In the book of Mark, a man presented his demon possessed son to Jesus. Desperate he was, and his son’s life was at stake. Shall we say, one of those hard and troubled times where one’s faith is so challenged.
    Mark 9:22b: but if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
    23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
    24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
    In the midst of the man’s belief, he had unbelief, or he had trouble believing. That seems a bit oxymoronish, but a good definition of extreme doubt. It is safe to say that since the disciples had trouble with their faith, and since this man with Jesus right in front of him had trouble believing, that we aren’t the only ones that struggle with faith.
    Here is what I see Jesus doing with both of these circumstances… He spoke, and He acted. With the disciples who asked for more faith, He kept on talking. For the man with his son who asked Jesus to fix his unbelief, Jesus acted, and healed the son.
    I suggest, as hard as it is, during our troubling times when our faith is being extremely challenged; listen to Him, and watch Him work. Keep listening, and keep watching. Do not stop. It’s only a matter of time when we will hear Him, and we will see His work in these situations. Yes it will be hard. When your faith is challenged, watch and listen. You will see, and you will hear. Be as patient and enduring as you can. It WILL happen!

  • Seth

    Lean on the Lord Jesus, that’s the take away for me from this. The rethinking to point of my whole paradigm being shaken (in a good way I hope) has been my experience over the past few years.

    Perhaps even seeing the shadows of that dark night upon me. But remembering that it is and always has been and always will be our loving Jesus who expresses our loving Father by the loving motherly spirit, who is the Rock of our salvation, the anchor of our soul and the only sure foundation regardless of how right or wrong we are on various issues/topics. Lean on the Lord Jesus – that is one reminder I never want to grow callous too.

    Thanks David. I like the videos. It always makes for a different kind of sharing and is helpful to see your body language and expression in getting certain points across.

  • Mary

    For me, there’s a huge difference between ‘believing’ and ‘knowing’
    I experience believing as a process: moving toward knowing.

    Seasons of doubt have brought me from ‘believing’ something about God, to finally ‘experiencing/knowing’ something about God.

    Doubt is something I experience on the way to knowing.

    When I think of this verse:
    John 16:13
    However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

    I wonder- is what I call ‘doubt’ (sometimes) more likely an invitation (to be ‘guided’) by the Spirit of God to ask questions that will lead me to ‘knowing’?

    The neat thing is, whatever I come to ‘know’ about Him, turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, ever expanding, getting bigger. And it all starts with asking questions (‘doubt’)
    I really hope that makes sense :)

    • David D. Flowers

      Doubt is an invitation. I like that!

      • Mary

        Me too. It’s very good news for us curious types! You know, for years I kept it secret that Thomas was the disciple I felt most connected to. I love the way Jesus responded to him.

    • Thomas Arvidsson

      Hi Mary! Thanks for your good input. Yeah, God is always greater. But the road ahead can sometimes be frightening when my “image” of God needs to be re-shaped, and sometimes even be crushed before it can be reshaped. / Brother Tom

  • Mary

    I should add, when I say ‘know’ I mean:
    Koinonia- communion, sharing, fellowship.

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