Dealing with Doubt

The summer of 1976 was a difficult time in my life. Even though our nation was marking its 200th anniversary, I was not in a mood to celebrate. My mind was struggling with some big questions. How do I know Christianity is true? Why should I believe what the Bible teaches? How do I know that God even exists? I had grown up in a Christian home and attended church almost every Sunday. I made a profession of faith in Christ when I was twelve years old. I had been involved in the church youth group during my high school years. When I arrived at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the fall of 1975, I quickly became very involved in a campus Christian fellowship. Yet, by that next summer I felt like I was living under a dark cloud, as doubt permeated my soul.

Though many folks never have this type of “faith crisis,” it is hardly uncommon. One prominent Christian leader who struggled with deep doubts early in his ministry was Francis Schaeffer. One of his books helped dispel the clouds of doubt from my life. In He is There, and He is not Silent, Schaeffer argues that if there is no God, life really has no meaning. If we are simply a product of natural selection and chance, we are merely highly evolved blobs of protoplasm. Such life has no inherent significance. Schaeffer also says that if God does not exist there is no basis for right and wrong. A moral law cannot exist without a lawgiver. Without God, cheating, rape, and murder become acts we likely personally abhor, but not things that are inherently wrong. Finally, Schaeffer says if there is no God, we have no basis to claim that we truly know anything, since only God has the perspective to make indisputable statements of fact.

After reading Schaeffer’s book, it was clear in my mind: If the God of the Bible does not exist, life is very empty. Yes, one response to this could be “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will die.” Yet, the inevitability of death means no true joy can be found in such activities. I realized that though I could not prove God existed, the alternative was extremely dark and ugly. The Bible verse that seems to parallel my thinking is John 6:68. Jesus asks the disciples if they intend to abandon Him as others have done. Peter responds, “Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” In a similar way, I decided believing in the God of the Bible was the only alternative to an abyss of meaninglessness that could only lead to despair. There is really nowhere else to go.

Over the past 44 years, my mind has struggled with occasional doubts, but I am more convinced than ever that God really does exist, that He has spoken to us through the Bible, and that He came to earth to redeem us in the person of Jesus Christ. I now believe that even though God’s existence cannot be proven to everyone’s satisfaction, deep in our souls we are aware He does exist. We know innately that life has meaning, that some things are inherently wrong, and that it is possible to have true knowledge. Thus, it is irrational to deny “God’s existence.” I also realize that I have reached this conclusion not because I am an “intelligent” or “good” person, but because God has graciously enabled me to see the truth. Friends, if you are struggling with doubt, I pray the Lord will do the same for you.
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Dan Erickson