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Unclear: How Should Followers of Jesus Respond During Seasons Of Doubt?

“I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.” – Mother Teresa

If you are a follower of Jesus, how are we to respond to seasons of incredible doubt? If you are not a follower of Jesus, I would still encourage you to read this with an open heart.

I struggle with the anxiety disorder called OCD. My journey of faith has been one of discovering the incredibly unconventional Jesus, not the distant religious fixture of stale ritualistic faith. In case you haven’t noticed, the Scriptures are often very complex, not giving us black and white answers to every matter under the sun. Imagine being in my brain for a day…Obsessive meets the sacred text that can sometimes be very hard to understand and digest.

Throughout much of my life, doubt has been a constant theme within my spiritual journey. Did God really say that, or was He actually saying this? What if I got that wrong? What if the Scriptures actually teach against (or for) this behavior?

Anxiety.

Doubt.

Anxiety.

Doubt.

My counselor, theological study, and prayer with God have brought much healing and discernment in these areas over the years; yet it is very, very easy for me to get lost in doubt, forgetting the foundational truths that I can cling to in the midst of confusion.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who is often lead astray by my own doubts and hollow teachings:

“Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!

I’ve written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they’re no match for what is embedded deeply within you—Christ’s anointing, no less! You don’t need any of their so-called teaching. Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.” – 1 John 2:24-27

So…What was the “original message”? I believe Paul may have been referencing a glimpse of this in the verses that precede 24-27. Let’s examine:

“So who is lying here? It’s the person who denies that Jesus is the Divine Christ, that’s who. This is what makes an antichrist: denying the Father, denying the Son. No one who denies the Son has any part with the Father, but affirming the Son is an embrace of the Father as well.” – 1 John 2:22-23 

“…affirming the Son is an embrace of the Father as well.” When false teaching or doubt creeps in, we must hold to the foundational teaching that affirms Jesus as the Son of God, the Word, and the Truth.

What if, when we are lost in an ocean of doubt, we are to simply cling to the message of the risen Jesus? What if we are meant to find our identity and security in His arms, not merely a completely understood theology and doctrine? What if we are allowed to question and to search for truth, holding firmly to the foundational teaching of Jesus?

When I was in college, a theology professor once said (paraphrasing), “Embrace doubt. If it makes you seek the truth with all your heart, doubt is a good thing.”

This really gives us a way to breathe, to step back, and to seek truth from an honest heart, not one that is panicking over always being “100% right”. Truth does exist; don’t get me wrong. And yet, it is the Holy Spirit who will guide us to truth, not our anxious panic.

If you are a follower of Jesus, yet you struggle with constant doubt that wages war against your identity in Christ, I pray that you cling to the hope you have found in His redemption, even in the midst of the questions and lack of clarity surrounding you.