Embracing Doubt: Why I Don't Give the Devil His Due

Many Christians have this amazing ability to chalk up every feeling of doubt, uncertainty, or anxiety to “Satan is attacking me.” That seems like a wonderful idea to me. Imagine taking every bit of mental conflict and being able to turn it into a divine battle of “good vs. evil.” Life would be pretty epic, at least in our own heads. However, I don’t think such habits are necessarily effective at actually LIVING. After years of wanting to get rid of all my doubt, I have decided to give it a warm bed instead.

Satan Isn't “Everywhere”

So let’s just start by getting our theology straight. For those of us who interpret Satan as being a literal “person” or individual, as some theologians would debate, he still isn't an “anti-God.” Satan isn't an omnipresent and omnipotent “bad God” who is everywhere at once making our lives miserable. If he still “wanders the earth” he is probably in the middle-east somewhere keeping things a mess and doesn't care about you and your struggles. There is just no sound doctrine or theology to justify a feeling of supernatural persecution every time we experience doubt or internal conflict. Period.

We Have Plenty of “Devil” On Our Own

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” - 1 Corinthians 10:13a

We treat each other cruel enough, judge each other, and gossip about each other to fill the void of evil in this world without help from a devil. There is enough evil in plain site, needs gone unmet and hurts gone unhealed that we don’t need to add a “hidden battle” to fight the good fight. I little self-reflection and prayer in any conflict can reveal the darkness of our own hearts which hinder our ability to do good.

Doubt Has Done Me Good

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” - John 9:41

Fear and anxiety is certainly unhealthy, especially in large doses. But doubt can be VERY healthy. Yes, I have had many a restless night of thinking through my actions, my assumptions, and my habits. Would it feel better not to have doubt, yes of course. However, I would not be able to change without it. The only reason to not have any doubt is if we were already perfect, otherwise we have no choice but to have some healthy level of constantly questioning ourselves.

People Without Doubt Are Jerks

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, - Philippians 2:12

Have you ever met anyone really self-assured and unshakable? They tend to be jerks; no one can change their mind, no one can question them, and no one can communicate with them. Why would you want to someone without doubt? In order to change, we have to have doubt. If we stop changing and growing, what point is there in living?

Doubt Hurts, That Doesn't Mean It’s Bad

You know, when you stub your toe at night, it might now be the devil picking on you. It could mean you should move the nightstand.

Life would be almost painless without doubt. I think that is why so many people seek spiritual teachings which try to remove it. But doubt is iron on the anvil, clay on the wheel, and steel in the forge. To struggle against doubt is to struggle against change and growth. We instead need to work through our doubt until we find clarity. If we don’t have clarity on something, then we need to work through it with prayer, meditation, and maybe some counsel from others until we do.

Doubt and Shame Are Not the Same, They Are the Opposite

To doubt ourselves is a healthy practice, but to shame ourselves is not. I think this is where most people get confused and worn down. The whole point of forgiveness is to free ourselves to doubt and examine our actions. When we embrace the forgiveness of Christ, we have no fear to look ourselves honestly in the mirror and identify our shortcomings. When we have shame, we are afraid to see our flaws.

The truth is that those who harbor shame on the inside are the ones who seem “without doubt” on the outside. Those who have grace for themselves and constantly question their actions and behavior are often those who seem the most “at peace” on the outside. A wise person is so confident in their words because they have spent so much time examining them. A fool is so boisterous and aggressive because they haven’t.