Doubt and Belief All at Once
May 6, 2022
Perhaps you have had an experience that you cannot deny was of God. Some assurance, some presence, some way of knowing or feeling something beyond your normal ways of knowing and feeling. A moment of clarity under the stars, or a confirmation in a whisper of the wind. Some people speak of being hit on the head with a holy 2×4, so startled are they to sense that they are hearing from God—like Saint-Paul-struck.
These experiences can be treasured for the way they might reveal God to us, and we can thank God for them and share them with others as we see fit to help us discern or grasp what God is calling us to or affirming.
But I expect that many of us spend much more of our time collecting little signs and reassurances—not lightning bolt moments but shades of enlightenment grown brighter over years. Understanding and forgiveness that ring true ages after the argument comes and goes.
When Jesus first visits the disciples in the locked room—frightened and disoriented as they were after his devastating death and rumors of his resurrection—Thomas is not there. It’s easy to identify with Thomas when he later says he must see Jesus’s hands and touch his wounds. A plain, unmistakable sign that God is doing something new is a welcome idea!
I remember being questioned ardently as a young adult by a church member who wanted to hear a before-and-after account of my faith. He wanted to know my salvation story. When did you know? He pressed.
I fumbled and finally found a way of telling my story, which was not one like Saint Paul’s, where I was headed down a road of perdition until I saw the light and made a U-turn. Alas, no made-for-TV movie will arise from this life. My experience has been more of a winding mountain road, full of switchbacks and trails discovered and kindnesses realized. It’s no less a story of God’s abiding grace, from the absence of dramatic realization.
The road to believing at all, and sustaining that belief, has a landscape that differs for each soul. Some need to touch and see. Some can hear the wind whisper or feel that holy 2×4. Some need to doubt and believe all at once.
We can give thanks for the many ways God lets new life unfold.