SEAN MCDOWELL BLOG
I Thank God for My Doubts: A Personal ReflectionPosted November 23, 2017 by Sean McDowell
I Thank God for My Doubts
It might sound crazy, but I can honestly say that I thank God for my doubts. It’s not that I always appreciate having doubts. Sometimes doubts can be a burden. But even so, I realize something deeper about the reason God has for my doubts. Let me explain.
I am a consistent doubter. I doubt almost everything including purchases, beliefs, and my daily choices. It is simply the way I am wired (and probably also the result of having a father who constantly challenged me to think). To be honest, sometimes the doubts can seem crushing. So, why would I thank God for them?
The answer is simple: It’s doubts that drive me to seek truth. That’s right, doubts drive me to read, study, think, question, and constantly try to uncover what is true. It bothers me to not know something, and I tirelessly try to uncover truth about it.
Without my doubts, I doubt (yes, pun intended) that I would have written a 300+ page academic book on the Fate of the Apostles or helped my father update his classic book Evidence that Demands A Verdict, which is 800 pages. I certainly am motivated to create resources that genuinely help people, but so much of my own drive comes from my personal doubts and skepticism. I want to be confident about what I believe.
A few years ago, I was lamenting that God didn’t give me more faith. I have a pastor friend who clearly has the gift of faith. He’s always optimistic about his family, faith, and church. No matter how dim things get, he’ll constantly say, “Don’t worry. God is in control. He’s got this.”
Yet, as much as I believe him, I still find myself thinking, “But how do you really know? What if God has other plans? Are you sure?” I just can’t help it. I question things. But why? Ultimately, I think there are two reasons.
First, as I mentioned above, doubts motivate me to study, research, learn, and go deeper in my understanding. If it were not such a skeptic, I would probably never spend so much time trying to learn and educate other believers. If you have a weakness, have you ever considered how God may have a deeper purpose for it?
Second, and perhaps most important, my doubts drive me to rest in God’s grace rather than my own understanding. When doubts plague me, and I can’t resolve something in my mind, I am driven to God for his mercy. Jude 1:22 says to "have mercy on those who doubt." And I often think of the powerful words spoken by the Apostle Paul, when he reflected on his own weakness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
God uses our weaknesses to draw us into deeper relationship with Him and for greater personal sanctification. In fact, God seems to enjoy using our weaknesses and shortcoming, so that He gets the glory. These are life-changing truths for which I rarely doubt.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.