I love my school. It is intellectually challenging, fun, and diverse. It’s brimming with great teachers and educators. However, when I started high school, I was not ready for the spiritual attacks that I would face. Day after day, I would face secular, humanistic, atheistic worldviews. Teachers would teach their views as if they were facts. I was told that all religions were connected and that religions such as Christianity found their origins in shamanistic tribal beliefs. We watched a movie teaching the evolution of apes into humans, where we watched half-men crawl around discovering “real emotions” for the first time. I knew all these views existed, but I was not ready for all the subtle messages under teaching that would grip my thinking and shake my beliefs. However, I am thankful for those times because it taught me valuable lessons about doubt. I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned.
Too many teens today are told that they shouldn’t doubt, they shouldn’t ask questions, but just “have faith”. This is disastrous. Those who give this advice mean well but are terribly mistaken. We need to face our questions and doubts. If we close up these thoughts inside of us, we brew the feelings longer, and this could lead to even greater doubts. Talking about your questions with others will show you that first, you aren’t alone in your questioning, and, second, most times there are answers.
Seek and You Shall Find
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. ‘ – Matthew 7:7-8
Too many people seek quickly and give up, left with a superficial and often dissatisfactory answer that leads to disbelief. When you have questions, seek diligently. Observe all possible answers. Ask your parents or trusted elders for resources that will give you rich, logical, meaningful answers. For example, someone may have doubts about passages such as 1 Timothy 2:9. “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” At first glance, this seems to mean that women can’t braid their hair or wear jewelry. Oppressive, right?
But one needs to seek. The word “seek” in Matthew 7:7-8 is not just referring to looking for something. It is speaking of passionately pursuing absolute truth. One cannot simply come to a conclusion from reading one verse and therefore saying that since it is in the Bible, it is true. One must compare Scripture with Scripture. One must find out historical and cultural context. One must research the meanings of the words in the original language. If one did for 1 Timothy 2:9, one would find that Paul is simply pointing out that inner beauty is most important and should be praised, not outer beauty. Women should strive to adorn themselves with patience and kindness, not elaborate hairstyles or expensive jewelry. If you would like to know more about this topic, check this out.
This may seem like hard work. But God has given us an amazing promise from God’s word. If you seek, if you pursue the answer to your question, you will find. If you ask God for guidance and help in your doubt, you will receive. We must cling to this promise as we struggle against our doubt. We cannot give up. We must seek the answer. For if we seek, we will find.
God Is Big Enough For Your Questions
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ‘ – Isaiah 55:8-9
God’s knowledge and wisdom are higher than everyone’s thoughts. Notice the analogy Isaiah uses: the heavens. The word translated “heavens” is “shâmayim”, and it is the same word as used in Genesis 1:8.
‘And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. ‘
The word used here means sky, either as where the stars are or the atmosphere. Knowledge of the sky in the ancient world was expansive, but not as amazing as our knowledge today. We now know that there are billions of stars in our galaxy and that there are other galaxies in the universe. If you traveled at a speed of 56,000 km/h, you would reach the nearest star to earth (other than the sun), Proxima Centauri, in 81,000 years. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than ours. He is ultimately wise and great and sovereign. Our questions don’t daunt Him. Our doubts don’t faze Him. He knew we would doubt before we were even born. He is all-knowing.
He also understands our struggle to believe. Hebrews 4:15 says:
‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. ‘
Jesus was human and has been tempted in every respect as we are. He has heard the questions, struggled with temptations, and has triumphed over death and sin. Let us look to Him in our struggle and our doubts. He is big enough for our questions.
You Are Not Alone
I have dealt with doubt throughout my teen years and still struggle with it. I have struggled with topics like women in the Church, evolution vs. 7-day creation, or complementarianism. However, I have resources that I have learned to draw from and learn from. The first resource that I would advise to you is a trusted, godly, learned adult. Talk to them about your doubt and ask them what has helped them in their journey of faith. Share with them that you want to seek the truth. The second resource would be finding sound theological and/or apologetical websites, books, podcasts, etc. from which you can draw and from which you can grow. Theologians such as John Piper and Timothy Keller and apologists such as the recently deceased Ravi Zacharias have formed great resources that you can learn from. (Links below.)
Teen, trust, ask, and seek, for you will find.