Anything worth knowing begins with a question. Philosopher Etienne Gibson wrote, “Faith comes to intelligence as a light that overflows it with joy and inspires it with a certitude that does away with question.”
I like asking questions, so perhaps I’m sympathetic towards the doubters of this world. I like to see them as truth-seekers, wishing to truly know and understand the kind of magnitude God has to offer us. I also like figuring out answers. If something doesn’t seem right, I push the subject until I am satisfied. If I still lack total comprehension, especially in terms of theology, I don’t mind. I read on. I think about it more, talk about it, pray about it.
But I never doubt God.
Perhaps this sounds prideful. Maybe it sounds like I’ve got this God response system down pat. I pray, he responds. No doubt about it.
Or maybe I take my place as His child more seriously. When Dad talks, I listen. When Dad says I can’t do something, I ask why. He tells me. I might ask a different way. He shows me. When I don’t understand, I look at it a different way. When I don’t agree, I seek his guidance to discern why the Mother Church leads me to believe such a thing.
What I love most about the Catholic Church is how she guides souls – authoritatively, gently, and humbly. She is sure of herself because her bridegroom is Christ. Her children may wander, but she is there to guide them home when they wish to return.
The hardest part about faith, I think, is that it is a choice. I choose to believe in God. I choose to believe Jesus is the Savior of the world. There are a lot of reasons why I choose these belief systems, and none of them have to do with making my life easier and more enjoyable. I like facts, so the resurrection’s place in history cements Jesus’ authenticity as God, verses a wise man who taught us good things thousands of years ago. Everything stems from that.
The doubtful must be counseled because it shows love towards their human development. Man must know God or remain incomplete as a person. Doubt is not a bad thing either – but it should be used as the fuel towards belief, guiding one’s prayer.
One night, as I was playing Euchre with my then-fiancé and his parents, I told the dealer to pick up the card and Will visibly grimaced*. He didn’t know I had the two highest cards, plus one more to trump. I asked him, “Don’t you trust me?” and his expression turned to pure confidence. We won all five hands of that game.
God is no card player, but He does hold the ultimate trump card. In Genesis, we are shown how God the Father did not make Abraham sacrifice his only son, setting up the world to see the great significance and sacrifice God the Son, who willingly suffered death for the atonement of our sins.
The doubtful may see all the negative parts of God before they choose to see the good, but the road to Damascus is not any easy one for any person. There can be no discipleship without the cross. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us, “The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain.”
Counsel the doubtful out of love, and perhaps the burden of doubt will turn into a freedom to believe.
For those truly struggling, as I have and am, I recommend praying a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
*And in Will’s defense, I am normally a pretty lousy card player.