I’ve had some pretty amazing spiritual experiences over the last couple years.
I have been visited by many saints in heaven, including some I knew as mortals. I have had many out-of-body experiences, and have sometimes journeyed to other times and places while awake. I have had some very vivid experiences with the Holy Spirit, with Jesus, and with God the Father.
These experiences have certainly done much to increase my faith; and yet, I still struggle with doubt.
There are still days when I wonder if all of this is “in my head”; if my spiritual experiences are nothing more than a fantasy I created to make me feel better about my otherwise boring and monotonous life.
To be honest, I’m not really sure if this doubt is good or bad.
Sometimes doubt serves a necessary purpose. By making us hold our experiences up to closer scrutiny, doubt can sometimes serve the purpose of strengthening our faith. As absurd as it sounds, sometimes doubt can be the ally of faith.
But if doubt can sometimes help our faith grow, it can also destroy it. Too much doubting can make us miss out on the blessings that come with faith – the blessings that come with knowing how much God loves us, and resting in that love.
The good news is that God is more than willing to meet us where we are, and help us lay some of our doubts to rest.
In the gospel of John, the apostle Thomas is told by the other apostles that Jesus has risen from the dead. But Thomas isn’t willing to put his faith in this blindly, and insists, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
Jesus graciously grants Thomas’ request, eliciting the response, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
Jesus concludes this passage with some challenging words: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29).
Why, we may wonder, are those who believe without seeing especially blessed?
I can’t say for sure that I know, but my sense is that those whose faith is so strong they don’t need special interventions from God, will be much less prone to doubt.
Those who need “proof”, on the other hand, may find that nothing will ever be enough to convince them – especially on matters that can’t really be proven empirically.
Personally, I wish that my faith was stronger than it is. God has done a lot to show me how loved I am, and yet I still question my experiences somewhat regularly. Sometimes it even seems like the more God proves His love to me, the more doubts seem to arise!
What can be done to resolve this dilemma? I’m not really sure. For now, all I can do is pray for more faith. Like the man whose son was healed from a demonic attack, I can only say, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)