I Thank God for My Doubts: A Personal Reflection

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 is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times. Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow; and Understanding Intelligent Design, with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org. In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.

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