Can I Doubt and Still Have Faith?

By Matt Dawson


Yes.

However, you cannot remain in your doubts and grow in your faith.

Doubts test our Faith and allow us the opportunity to grow closer to God when we are able to move past them and settle them in our hearts.

However, many Christians struggle to be open and honest about the doubts they have because they have believed the lie that you CANNOT DOUBT and still have faith.

Jesus met a father of a boy who was suffering from demon possession.  This is not something we see often (or recognize anyway) in our western culture, but it was clear that the boy was tormented by a demon and the father’s heart was broken.  He brought the boy to the disciples to be healed, but they could not heal him.

When Jesus arrived, he asked them why they were arguing and it was because they could not cast out this demon.  The father asked Jesus to have mercy on them and to help them “IF” he can.

Mark 9:23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Jesus response to the father FUELS the NEVER DOUBT philosophy among Christians. Never doubt. Always believe. If you doubt, your faith is empty and God will not show up for you!

However, we see the father respond back to Jesus with the true intent of his heart. Jesus hears from a father filled with faith and asks for help with his doubt.

Mark 9:24 “…I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Jesus recognizes this father’s cry for help and responds to his faith. The point of this story was not to fuel a NEVER DOUBT campaign among believers, it was to help them understand that we MUST be honest about our doubts in the midst of our faith! 

CAN Faith or WILL Faith

You see, I personally believe the dad believed that Jesus COULD save his son. After all, that’s why he was there. He wouldn’t have taken the journey to find Jesus if he did not believe and have HOPE that Jesus and his disciples could perform a miracle and deliver his son from this torment.

Where was his unbelief?  The father didn’t know if Jesus WOULD save his son.

There are two systems of belief that many followers drift back and forth between.

One is that GOD WILL   fill in the blank)  .  God will heal you, God will protect you, God will deliver that person to you, God will give you what you desire, God will keep you from harm, God will do what you need done, God will do what we cannot do.

The other is a GOD CAN   (fill in the blank)  .  God can heal you, God can protect you, God can deliver that person to you, God can give you what you desire, God can keep you from harm, God can do what you need done, God can do what you cannot do.

If you grew up and were taught a God WILL faith, then there is NO ROOM FOR DOUBT.  As a matter of fact, most people in this camp of faith believe that if God DOES NOT SHOW UP and do something, it was because your faith was not STRONG ENOUGH and that you secretly had doubts and that it’s YOUR FAULT.  The caution I give those with a GOD WILL Faith is to recognize the difference between God WILL (faith in our provider) and OUR WILL (our desires & outcomes).

I believe that a healthy faith is a GOD CAN Faith. A GOD CAN faith allows us to be filled with hope and put all of our trust in our heavenly Father, while being surrendered to His sovereign will. This will require us to live with the tension of our doubts, but we do not have to remain there.  We have faith that GOD CAN, but struggle with the tension of if GOD WILL. This is the example of this father “I DO BELIEVE (GOD CAN), help me in my UNBELIEF (GOD WILL).”

I believe the dad of this son is our example of acknowledging the tension we will face with our faith.  We believe that God CAN do all things, but we will still need to surrender our desires and outcomes to His WILL. This is the mark of a healthy believer, and one who does not REMAIN STUCK in their doubts but is always willing to surrender them to God.

Join us as we close out our “Dealing with Doubt” series as we discuss what it looks like to embrace the unknown.

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