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This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Video YouTube channel. This is part 1 of 10 in the Basic Practices for Growing Christians series.

Doubt can strike anybody. If doubt means to be undecided or even skeptical or distrustful, then everyone struggles at times with doubt. Can I trust what appears or claims to be true? Often our doubt is directed toward God. Yet the Bible is filled with examples of God’s character to show that he can be trusted.

Doubt Is a Decision

Given the available evidence, we all have a choice to accept or reject that evidence. So many people who struggle with doubt are passively waiting for something dramatic to happen what will automatically remove all doubts. But God has already shown his character and his actions. Now it’s up to us to choose what we will do with that evidence.

We Are Not Alone in Our Doubts

Many of the great people of faith in the Bible and in Christian history have struggled with periods of doubt.

  • Sarah  (Genesis 18:12)
  • Elijah  (1 Kings 19:1-4)
  • Peter  (Matthew 26:74)
  • Thomas  (John 20:25)
  • John the Baptist  (Luke 7:20)

[Related: Doubting When Faith Doesn’t Make Sense]

Signs Do Not Decrease Doubt

You might think that if you had seen the miracles the people in the Bible saw, you would not have any doubts. But the Israelites saw God part the Red Sea. They saw God’s miracle of provision every day in the wilderness, and they doubted – a lot. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day saw everything he did, and they were some of the biggest doubters ever. They even demanded a sign, but when the greatest sign of Jesus’ divine authority happened – his resurrection – they denied it and tried to cover it up.

We Are Most Tempted to Doubt During Trials

Often our doubts come into focus the most during difficult times. But one reason for our doubts is that we have wrong expectations of God. If you think following God is supposed to be a life without trials, then you will naturally doubt the goodness and power of God when trials inevitably come. No matter how much faith you have – a little or a lot – all the faith you have will be tested at some point. The trials of life will test that faith.

Doubt can have an emotional component, which can overpower our rational perspective. But when in trials, remember the ways God has proved himself to you in the past. As someone said, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.”

[Related: Doubting when Life Gets Hard]

The Devil Is the King of Doubt

One of Satan main activities in the Bible is to stir up doubt. He did this with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, causing Eve to doubt God’s goodness. He tried to do it with Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. In Revelation 12:10, Satan is known as “the accuser”. In our doubts, he accuses God of being unloving and uncaring, and he accuses us of lacking faith.

[Related: Doubting Because You Don’t Feel Like a Christian]

Deal with Your Doubts

In Matthew 4, when the devil tempted Jesus, combatted Satan’s doubts by quoting directly from God’s word. Doubt is overcome with truth. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we do battle by taking every thought captive. So whether our thoughts come from Satan or from difficult circumstances, the battle of doubt takes place in our minds. Ephesians 6:16 encourages us to take up the shield of faith to defend against the evil one. If we have the shield faith up, the perspective of faith changes how we view the circumstances and questions that cause doubt.

James 1:5 says that if we ask God for wisdom, he will give it. God is not afraid of your questions. We don’t need to be ashamed of our doubts. And we have no need to be afraid of his answers, since God has our best interests in mind. Identify the issues you are doubting, and go straight to God for the answer. Be honest with him. You can ask others, but don’t neglect to ask God. A great example is a man who came to Jesus for healing.

Mark 9:23-24 Jesus said to him, “‘All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

[Related: Doubting Christianity: Can Christians Doubt?]

There are many reasons to trust God. He has revealed himself in nature and in the Bible, as well as in our lives. Yet doubt is a normal part of life. Don’t be afraid because you feel doubts. Take them to God and talk to him about your doubts.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What is it about people that makes it harder or easier to trust them?
  4. What is it about God that makes it harder or easier to trust him?
  5. Some people have a harder time with doubt than others. Discuss some things that may have happened in your childhood that might make it hard to trust.
  6. What circumstances in your life have stirred up the greatest doubts? Explain.
  7. Read Luke 7:18-23. Why do you think John the Baptist started to doubt? How did Jesus respond?
  8. Read Matthew 4:1-11. How did Satan try to raise doubts with Jesus? How did Jesus respond?
  9. Read Ephesians 6:13-18. How does faith function as a shield against Satan’s mental attacks?
  10. Read Mark 9:17-27. How does the boy’s father help us understand how to handle our doubts?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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