Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Is doubt an important part of faith?

Since going through a time of almost atheism I have found that my attitude to doubt has changed. It now seems more important to acknowledge it in my life. Doubt now makes my faith more real, more like faith. Before this crisis of faith I tried to make myself believe wholeheartedly by pretending doubt wasn't there. It didn't help. I almost walked away from God completely despite my best efforts at being full of faith.

I think what I called faith before was blind acceptance not faith. Maybe I am being hard on myself because I know there were times when my faith was real and based on faith not blind acceptance. Blind acceptance is the overall impression I am left with when I look back on some of those years. I read  recently that the oppostie of faith is not doubt - it is certainty. Now I have been through my own time of  severe doubt I know what it means to say that - certainty is the opposite of what I feel now when I talk about faith. Prior to my crisis of faith I would have describe my faith as certainty. back then  I was trying to be a good Christian. I was trying to be what I thought I should be. Now I want to be what I am. And I want to be what I am with God beside me being what He is.

The following is an excerpt from my book He Never Let Go

In February 2011, I heard a lovely, wise Catholic Priest talk about how the light can be more appreciated when you know the darkness. I think I am beginning to realise that for myself. I have now experienced the darkness of a time of believing there is no God. I know what it is to have just a deep, dark, empty, void where my faith used to be. I know what it is to have no anchor for my life. Having this experience means that the faith I have now seems even more precious to me. The light of faith is so much brighter than it was before. It’s only a small beginning but I am beginning to see the value of questions and doubt. I know I will go on learning more.

What about you? How does doubt affect you?


  1. Doubt has always been part of my faith, I came to faith late in life and as I explored on Alpha had doubts about God existing.
    Even now I have moments of doubt when I feel a urge to not believe what I know to be true. I have always just remembered my meeting with God when I became a Christian and many times since. I find its focussing on these times which gets me past doubt as well as facing the issue making me doubt head on and trying to deal with it.

  2. Absolutely Chris. I think ignoring doubt causes problems. As you say facing them head on, acknowledging it and moving on despite it is the only way.

  3. I don't know why - nothing to do with me, I'm sure - but I can't recall ever having experienced doubt about God's existence. I did once, however, have severe doubt about whether I had committed the unforgivable sin, from which there is no way back.

    It felt like the sort of sheer panic that Alice (of Wonderland fame) must have felt when falling down what might - as far as she knew - have been a bottomless pit. I was in utter darkness; emptiness; aloneness - and I was terrified.

    It went on for several days, perhaps a week, before I went for counselling. Where, of course, I was told that the experience of terror at being cut off from God was, in itself, a good indicator that I wasn't. In other words, I wouldn't have had the conscience to worry about it had I really been cut off.

    Other than that, my faith is utterly precious to me. Though I have to say it's not a mountain top all the time. The deep valleys are probably where I've grown most. And believe me, with an adulterous husband, divorce, drug-taking daughter who eventually died, severe back problems and one or two other things, I'm well acquainted with the valley bottom.

  4. Mel,
    The way you describe feeling when you thought you had committed the unforgivable sin is just how I felt at some points during my time of no longer believing in the existence of God. At first I felt relieved I didn't have to obey Him any more, but then suddenly one November day I realised I missed Him. And that is when I fell into that bottomless pit you described. I felt exactly as you describe. Thank fully for me that was the turning point for me and it caused me to re-search for God.

    It sounds like God has been your Rock in extremely difficult times. He is amazing isn't he? What blows me away is that no matter how unfaithful I was He never let go of me. He just waiting patiently for me to come home again.