“Of course I have doubts. Without doubts, I wouldn’t need faith,” I replied to a dear colleague, Shane, who asked me if I ever have doubts.
I could see in his eyes he was carrying doubts during a difficult time of grief.
“My doubts allow me to ask questions,” I continued. “Those questions lead to answers. They in turn strengthen my faith.”
Shane nodded while taking a bite out of his ham and cheese toasted sandwich at the local Strathpine Coffee Club Café in Australia.
I met Shane in 1995, over a decade before this discussion, while implementing accounting-based software solution where he worked. Shane had a knack for computers, and hence we shared similar interests and formed a friendship. Since then, we have worked together on many projects, mixing our abilities to provide successful, client-focussed information technology solutions. I knew he had Christian foundations, but he struggled at times and bordered on agnosticism.
I continued the conversation. “When I feel bad about carrying doubt, I think back to Peter, who walked side by side with Jesus and saw him do miracles.”
After swallowing his mouthful of food, Shane asked, “How does that help?”
“When Peter’s faith was challenged before Jesus’s crucifixion, he carried enough doubt to deny he even knew Jesus. Not once, but three times. Only after Peter saw Jesus return from the dead was Peter’s faith strong as a rock. Firm enough to support the foundations for the Church of Christianity.”
“Oh,” Shane replied, with a glint in his eye.
“At the time, Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Day in and day out, I feel truly blessed, to be able to believe in Christ, and have him in my life, just as he said.”
“But doesn’t your doubt show a lack of belief?”
Shaking my head, I replied, “Not at all. It shows how gracious our God is, to give us free will, the freedom of choice to love Him for who He is, not what He is. If God wanted to, He could appear to everyone like He did the apostles. They in turn would believe, but they would have lost their freedom to choose to love God for who He is from their own free will.”
Shane continued to eat his sandwich, pondering my words. I finished a couple of fries then offered another example. “When you see a rich and wealthy older gentleman and his beautiful young wife, who met him after he made his fortune, do you believe she married him for his wealth and lifestyle he could offer, or for who he is?”
“Hmmm…” Shane declined to comment.
“If God shows us his power before we come to love him, he could change why we love him. I love God for the life he has given me, and the grace God has shown me through the Bible. Whenever I doubt, I smile, and thank God he gave me the freedom to choose to love him.”
After a moment, Shane smiled. A tear ran down the side of his face as he said a prayer thanking God for allowing him to choose to love Him. At the same time, he mourned the death of his wife who lost her battle with breast cancer.
Conversations like these can be awkward. How do you know the right thing to say to someone who is suffering a huge loss? Is bringing up your faith a good idea in these situations?
Truth is, every situation is different, and sometimes there is no particular right answer. You have to judge where the person is at with his or her own spirituality, and of course listen to the question they are asking.
I have learned that faith is like a parachute: the stronger your faith, the larger the parachute. Some people take off their parachute when the skies are clear and there is no turbulence. This leaves them vulnerable to unforeseen storms. Keeping a parachute of faith on at all times, while strengthening the canopy, ensures if the day should come that it is needed, the parachute will open wide providing a soft landing.
Knowing this encourages me to share my faith. Imagine the pilot on a plane you are on says, “There are storms ahead. The plane may not make it through.” You gaze around and discover a box of parachutes. Would you want to share them? We are all on that plane, called life. There most likely will be storms. Never be afraid to share your faith—a parachute that may indeed save someone.