When Doubt Is More than Just a Season
Rather than waiting for it to pass, keep wrestling.
Every spring my social media feed bursts with photos of children sitting in fields of bluebonnets, an annual tradition in Texas. It’s purported to be a crime to pick a bluebonnet, our state flower. (It’s not.) It’s definitely a crime that I’ve lived here for five years without ever coming close enough to a bluebonnet to be tempted to pick one
In Texas, bluebonnets mean spring. With such little variation between seasons, we get stuck in a cycle of light green to dark green to brownish green to less green and back again. As a native of the Northeast, my soul craves the ebb and flow of nature’s clothing, the predictability of life and death, and the knowledge that within three months change is coming.
Similarly, Christian culture has groomed me to believe that as sure as spring, summer, autumn, and winter, my spiritual life operates in seasons. Elation. Joy. Discouragement. Fear. Worship. Obedience. Death. Life. During extended times of doubt, someone is always ready to tell me, “This is just a season; wait it out!”
But are they right?
Before I moved to Texas and the Lord revealed the gospel to me, I experienced an extended time of doubt. I began by doubting small things: the necessity of church, inerrancy of Scripture, and more; these questions led me to doubt my salvation and the very existence of God. I rarely spoke of the churning within my soul, but when I did, the response was often some variation of, “It’ll get better.”
And it did get better, but not because I assumed another, happier season was right around the corner. My doubt did not fade until I lifted my face up from a tear-soaked carpet and set it with a steely gaze toward the reality that it might not ever get better, that I would continue wrestle, like Jacob, until God blessed me.
I stopped looking at my wrestling with doubt as if it were a passing season.
While God promises good for his people, he doesn’t guarantee that he will fulfill his promises on our schedules or even in our lifetimes. Hebrews 11 lists people throughout Scripture who “though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (11:39, ESV). I realized I didn’t need assurance that things would better soon, but I decided not to let go until they did.