Having Doubts | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
September 2014

Having Doubts

By: Kyle Wyman

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

My favorite part of this passage is verse 17, which states, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” It is a powerful reminder of the challenge of faith. Even when faced with the risen Jesus, some of the eleven still harbored doubts about him and what was next for their lives. They all worshiped him, but doubt still lingered in their hearts. In the face of the risen Jesus, an identity crisis is a pretty common occurrence. When Paul encounters the risen Jesus on his way to Damascus in Acts 9, everything he knew about himself was thrown into doubt.

We are all faced with doubt when we walk the road of faith. For some, it is a question of intellectual doubt: Did these miracles really occur? Does God really have power over death? Is love the best course for life? For others, it is a deeper, gnawing existential doubt: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? I myself have been in the grips of this latter form. I question my place in this world and what it means for my beliefs. It is ironic how dramatic encounters with the divine do not remove doubt, but often deepen them. Why is that?

I think our discomfort with doubt comes from the fact that we often mistake certainty for truth. I have a desire to be right - to have the right answer, the right response, to know the right path. I crave certainty and security. However, truth, much like the vagaries of reality, does not create certainty. Truth means discomfort. It is a deep discomfort with yourself, the world, and your relationship with God and other people. The gospel message clearly does not dispel that discomfort. Rather, Jesus seems quite comfortable with uncertainty and commands all his disciples, including those harboring doubt, to “Go therefore and make disciples.” One essential aspect of discipleship is about living into doubt, embracing uncertainty, and acknowledging those aspects of you freely with other people. God covers the multitude of things with grace. Despite fears, inadequacies and existential doubt, God desires for us to be disciples and share the good news of the risen Savior.

Like the disciples, I too have doubt. I have anxiety regarding my future and my path in this world. However, true faith is defined by a dogged pursuit of truth. We approach the throne of grace with boldness. We constantly question God and ourselves in order to determine meaning for our lives. That is what distinguishes the Christian faith: it is about relationship not about rules. Have you ever been in a relationship (familial, platonic, romantic, etc.) that was based on certainty? By no means! It was based on truth, trust, and being able to live into your doubts and inadequacies about yourself and the other person because you found fulfillment in the risk of seeking another’s presence. All relationship is risk, regardless of what kind of relationship it is. One great thing here is that even with our doubts and fears, God still has work for us to do and promises to be with us in that work “until the end of the age” (v.20).

Discussion Questions: Are you feeling any doubts about your faith or existence this day? Have you experienced them in the past? Reflect on what that did to/for you as a person and share it with someone close to you.

See more devotions from Kyle and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.