When Youth Doubt | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2018

When Youth Doubt

By Betsy Marvin

I can see and hear it like yesterday, one of the moments that you mark in time that everything shifts. We were sitting on a picnic table in the middle of the camp overlooking a lake in early spring. It was chilly but not bad as students enjoyed free time during the weekend retreat. We sat pretty quiet for a moment, then she dove in. What if… How can… Why…

The doubt pouring out as she wrestled with who God is, why bad things happened to her, and what if the Bible after all this, isn’t true? This wasn’t our first conversation about all this, we’d had many, but I could tell she was coming to that big question – if I have doubt do I still have Jesus?

Underneath doubt is that fear- the fear that maybe God isn’t good or that God will be disappointed in our questions, or the fear that the wondering means we don’t have faith.

When it comes to doubt, there are few things we need to realize. God is so immense, so incredibly more than we can ever imagine that if we never wonder it raises ….. Yet, as our minds develop, we begin to process what we really believe, not if there is a God but more about who He is.

So often when it comes to doubt questions, we ignore them or brush them aside. They are scary for some people to even contemplate. But, for this young woman sitting with me during free time and others, that’s a big disservice. She needed me to acknowledge her questions and encourage her that she wasn’t bad for wondering. She needed to know that we could find some answers but not all. There are some things about God that will always be a mystery – can we be OK with that? If we could understand Him, he wouldn’t be God.

This past summer I sat in a school hallway talking with a young man at camp. He was so troubled about the doubts he was feeling and wondered if that meant he didn’t have Jesus if he had doubts. I asked him, do you believe Jesus died for you? Yes. Do you believe that he loves and has forgiven you? Yes. So what are your questions? And we began…so many times we forget to remember what it was like to wonder.

Doubt is an element of growth in faith. It’s in the doubt that we are motivated to know God more. It’s in the doubt that our minds seek to know what our hearts have accepted.

Peter sank in the water, yet he was the rock on which Jesus built his church. Doubt doesn’t exclude us from God’s plan, it invites to discover and grow into his plan.

Betsy has worked with students for over 26 years and has served at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia, MI for nineteen of those years. Currently, Betsy is the Director of Family Ministry while still holding the high school ministry hat. Betsy also teaches women’s ministry at Grace Bible College as an adjunct professor. Betsy has been married for 29 years with a son in college and daughter in high school. In her free time, she enjoys reading, laughing with her family, and date nights!