Is Doubt The Opposite of Faith?

"You can no more have faith without doubt than be brave without fear."

I have always struggled with doubts. They really have been a thorn in the side of my walk as a Jesus follower. I used to think that these doubts negated my faith and I thought it meant something was wrong; perhaps I wasn’t saved, perhaps God hadn’t changed me, perhaps I wasn’t a Jesus follower at all. But recently, I have realized that doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is, in fact, one of faith’s most powerful weapons.

In the earlier days of my journey as a Christian, I used to get into deep ruts of doubt and questioning. I rarely doubted the existence of God, but I did doubt His character, what He would do, and whether He is who His word says He is. And sometimes, these doubts still appear. However, I think God wants us to use these moments of questioning - whether they are from the world, the enemy, or us - to strengthen our faith.

Here’s the crux of the matter: doubts allow us to dig deeper into our faith. They unearth concepts, ideas, and questions about the very thing we believe in. If we approach doubts in the right way, we can actually learn a lot more about God than we perhaps realize.

For example, take the following thought:

“I keep messing up. Has God really saved me?”

Instead of tirelessly worrying about your salvation, you could instead take this as an opportunity to grow more assured in your salvation and soak in the wonder of the gospel. One of the best ways to use doubts to our advantage is by finding scriptures to ‘answer’ them. So, for the thought above, I might use these scriptures:

  • Romans 4:5 - ‘However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.’
  • Isaiah 1:18 - ‘“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”’
  • Colossians 3:3-4 - ‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.’
  • John 6:37 - ‘”All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”’

And before you know it, the doubt that you once thought would ruin your faith has actually strengthened it.

"For many people, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren’t opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that you’re owning your path, engaged, thinking, feeling, that your heart is alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren’t opposites; they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners." (Unknown)

I was recently struggling with a whole bout of doubts. I messaged one of my best friends (as I often do in times of trouble), and she helped me through it all with many pieces of encouragement. I came across this quote whilst talking to her:

“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but certainty. Conversely, the opposite of doubt is complacency.”

A while after our conversation had ended, she texted me the following:

"I was thinking about what you wrote earlier about the opposite of doubt is complacency and I was like, I'm becoming complacent; like I've not questioned stuff for ages and you my friend have been challenging me cause all your questions etc. have made me think, ok am I blindly accepting things; I'm not getting deep enough into the bible to be challenged so thank you for inspiring me."

As a Church, we need to stop treating doubts as something to be avoided. They can actually rebuild, strengthen and restore your faith, and inspire others. Let us not become complacent with our faith, but rather embrace doubts and questions, not avoiding them out of fear for what we might find, because the truth is that when we go to God for the answers, we will never be disappointed and we will always find what our soul is searching for.

"Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving." 

- Frederick Buechner.

Alice is 18 and from England. She gave her life to Jesus about 5 years ago, and was baptized in July 2015. She feels that she is called to creative evangelism after receiving many prophecies from various people. She's a keen musician, photographer, writer, and speaker, and she hopes to involve all of these passions when sharing the love of Jesus to the world. She looks forward to moving to a city to attend university, engrossing herself in youth culture and wider communities.