“It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.”
– Fyoder Dostoevsky
One of the most dangerous correlations we can make is to link faith with certainty. It is quite easy though, it seems to quiet a lot of the crazy thoughts we have in a given day. Being certain seems so strong and impervious, and yet it is one of the most dishonest things we can do with faith. Certainty doesn’t encourage transformation but instead can keep things status quo. Doubt is essential, not simply relegated to a part of faith but an act that can keep it engaged and vibrant. Frederick Buechner said “Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith. It keeps us awake and moving.”
But why are we so afraid of it? Why am I? There are reasons that are noble and not so noble. Yes we don’t want to step on the sacred, but what if the divine calls us to wrestle and fight and challenge? If you read scripture then you can’t deny this as a common theme. Jacob literally wrestles with the divine, and he is changed in the process. Struggle is what changes us, and God writes so many stories that involved it. But we humans, myself included, want to hide and be comfortable. And so some reasons we do not express our doubt is because this will be compromised. It will cost us something. Easier to be certain, for then you can live your life unchanged. To doubt can be an act of repentance, to turn our ways towards God in a posture of true engagement.
Jacob limped away from his encounter with God. But he was transformed. He had a new name and was becoming a new man. And this process, by God’s sheer grace, can change us too if we only be willing to risk and trust God with our doubts and struggles.