Embracing Uncertainty

The Transformative Power of Doubt in Faith


Jan 20, 2024

Photo by Lili Popper / Unsplash

2 min read

A pivotal truth I've embraced in my spiritual journey is that doubt and questioning are integral to truly 'seeing' God. Often, it's through the process of doubting and questioning that we can even begin to enter the spiritual domain.

If you approach doubt with curiosity and wonder, you can counteract some of the fear and uncertainty that often causes many to stop searching altogether. When encountering doubts about spiritual truths or theories, I often pause to reflect. I ask myself, why is the possibility of this being true so frightening? Do I fear a loss of control? This is also where non-dual thinking can be helpful. Dualistic thinking tends to categorize into binary options. Non-dual thinking transcends the separation and tries to see more holistically. What if this is both true and false? I'm reminded of Jesus's admonition that having faith like a child is the best way to find our way into his kingdom. Children ask lots of questions and follow their curiosity, leading them to new discoveries.

Doubt can also foster humility and openness in us when we are confronted with the limitations of human knowledge. I don't like to default to playing the "mystery card" when I'm exploring new spiritual truths, but the entire faith journey is about encountering profound mysteries like: God, grace, suffering, death, and love. Being reminded of how little we know can keep us humble and open to new knowledge and experiences throughout this process. It also makes us nicer people and friends.

Finally, doubt can help us to let go of superficial beliefs that do not matter and are not helpful. I remember a pastor once describing this process as a matter of defining "open hands vs closed fists". What are the beliefs that we should hold onto tightly and what are the beliefs that we can open our hands to and let go of? John Wesley's 'Wesleyan Quadrilateral' provides a helpful framework, which I often refer to. This involves examining scripture, tradition, experience, and reason to balance and evaluate beliefs. By looking at these four components, you can weigh where things feel out of balance and whether that tension is telling you to let go of a belief.

Doubt and questioning are not something to be feared and avoided. Embracing doubt as a constructive tool can profoundly enrich our spiritual journeys. By approaching doubt with curiosity and wonder, we can begin to accept our limited knowledge with humility and let go of beliefs that don't help us or that are superficial.

© 2024 Ross Gebhart