Sometimes watching TV actually teaches me something. Which is totally cool, since maybe TV isn’t the time-sucking villain we sometimes make it out to be.
Over the weekend I camped out in my bedroom to watch back-to-back episodes of Jane the Virgin while football games dominated our living room TV. I’m only a football fan when my son plays. The rest of it is just background noise as far as I’m concerned.
So there I was, folding clothes and watching my favorite “telenovela,” and the episode was all about faith and doubt. The main character, Jane, doubts everything. Maybe because she thinks too much. Maybe because she reads too much. Or maybe it’s just in her DNA.
But boy, does she question everything. A little like somebody else I know.
Because if I had a dime for every time I questioned, doubted, wondered, and worried. . . I’m sure you can relate, right?
So in the episode, there’s a flashback to Jane as a young girl in church on Easter, and she starts doubting the truth of Jesus’s resurrection. I mean, it DOES sound pretty ridiculous, right?
After church, Jane tells her Abuela about her doubts and rattles off her line of endless questions until Abuela stops her mid-sentence.
“You can poke holes in anything,” she says. But banishing doubt is what it means to have faith.
You can poke holes in anything
Abuela is right, you know.
You CAN poke holes in anything.
- There are a million reasons not to believe in God.
- There are a billion reasons to convince yourself that maybe God is real, but He doesn’t really care about you.
- There are arguments and assertions, claims and contentions by the thousands. They say God isn’t real, He sure isn’t good, Jesus was a fake, Christians are deluded. And on and on.
We tend to dismiss the people we know with extreme opinions. “Those atheists,” we shrug as we roll our eyes at their refusal to believe.
But how often do we face our own questions with honesty? How many times do we let ourselves be vulnerable enough to acknowledge our own doubts and fears?
We all wonder at times, don’t we, if maybe we’re wrong?
- We endure through heart-wrenching pain, we witness injustice and violence and terror, and we question whether God sees or cares. And if He really does, then why doesn’t He do something?
- We profess our faith loud and strong, but we wonder why life hasn’t turned out the way we planned. We wonder why the road has to be so crooked and why we don’t have it all figured out yet. And if God was truly sovereign and all-knowing, then wouldn’t he have fixed things by now?
- We look at others, comparing ourselves and letting the thief of joy rob us of living our own best life. Instead, we dwell on the unfairness, longing for the greener grass one pasture over, and we decide that maybe God isn’t so impartial after all. We think maybe He plays favorites and, well, we didn’t make the cut.
And if you tell me you’ve never had those thoughts, or a thousand more just like them, then you and I both know you’re floating down a river in Egypt.
Doubt is a normal part of living. Questioning things shows that we’re paying attention, that we’re learning, that our minds are engaged.
When Doubt Becomes a Stumbling Block
But how do we keep doubt from becoming a stumbling block and build our lives on faith instead?
Well, we start by remembering what Abuela said: you can poke holes in anything.
You can come up with reasons and evidence to support any crazy opinion or answer you want to give. You can think of a truckload of different options and possibilities, and you can Google till you’re cross-eyed.
But faith, in the end, means purposefully banishing that doubt back to where it came from.
It means choosing — in the most active sense — to believe in something we can’t see or prove. It means deciding to dismiss the arguments, sweeping them aside, and learning what we know in our souls — even though we’d never have enough hard evidence to win a case in court.
Because faith isn’t a fact. It’s a conviction.
Faith is like love in that way.
We can’t see it, but we know it’s there. And anybody who’s ever loved somebody knows that love is real. But you can’t hold it in your hand. You can’t prove it with scientific evidence. You can’t measure it or contain it or quantify it.
Nonetheless, love is real. And so is faith.
Is Doubting a Sin?
There are people who will tell you that doubting is wrong. That it’s sinful to even question God, that it’s wrong to have those thoughts and that you clearly need to pray more, read your Bible more, confess your sin and repent.
Because you’re human and so am I. And part of the human condition is the constant need to question. It’s the reason three-year-olds pester us infinitesimally with “Why?”
Curiosity is in our DNA. We’re all detectives at heart and we want the clues we find to lead us to definitive answers.
So when we can’t solve the mystery, we doubt, we question, we wonder.
How to Know If Your Faith Is Real
But faith is choosing. Faith means acknowledging the doubts, the inconsistencies, the “I don’t know”s.
And then deciding to believe anyway.
It doesn’t matter what it is that troubles you. You can poke holes in anything.
But you can also sweep those doubts aside and choose to know what’s true. Every time they creep in, like dust and crumbs on the floor, you can see them, know they’re there. And then you can banish them.
That’s how faith grows. That’s how you know faith is real.
Because first we choose to see the doubts and fears. We acknowledge the questions and the mysteries. And then we clean house. Over and over and over again.
We sweep away the mess so we can see what’s underneath. We can feel the ground then, solid beneath our feet.
Don’t be discouraged, dear one, when your faith doesn’t seem as strong as you hoped. Don’t condemn yourself when you have doubts.
Instead, think of your questions as dust bunnies beneath your bed. An annoyance, sure, but nothing that can’t be obliterated — at least for the time being — by the hose attachment on your vacuum.
Choose faith. Make it a daily action.
And whenever the doubts reappear, get out the broom.