So, got questions? That is, do you have questions about God, church, Jesus, the Bible, spirituality, religion, and life as we know it? Chances are, if you have a pulse, you do.
But do you feel free to ask them out loud?
Are your questions a barrier or doorway to a deeper faith?
Or maybe your questions are inarticulate, more like feelings of unease or dissatisfaction. Maybe you go home after a church service and wonder if that’s all there is to being a Christian. Maybe it feels like your faith doesn’t “work” like it once did.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. All kinds of people find themselves going through such times. Lots of people end up in spiritual valleys. Prayer seems like a dry, monotonous monologue. You’re not motivated to read the Bible. Church seems routine, and not in a good way. Uncomfortable and difficult questions lurk on the periphery. And underlying all of this is either fear of being found out or a feeling of resignation. Perhaps you wonder: Where is God in all of this?
Are you just going through the motions when it comes to your faith? And do you find that you have less and less energy to do even that?
Here’s my advice. First, don’t hide from your questions and your uncomfortable feelings. Don’t push them away or pretend they’re not real. That won’t help. Your questions are real and are a part of who you are.
Second, don’t feel guilty about your questions and feelings either. Consider them an invitation to further reflection and spiritual growth. God doesn’t condemn you for having questions or for struggling with your faith.
Third, express your feelings and questions. Write them down. Articulate them. What’s going on in your heart and mind? Why do you have this question or that feeling? Did something trigger your questions? What has made you feel this way?
Fourth, and this is the part that many avoid doing, bring your questions into community. That is, ask someone else. Share your feelings and questions. Surely, there’s someone you can trust with what’s going on in your heart. Ask your pastor. Ask a Christian that you know has some experience and wisdom.
Fifth, depending on your questions, there are lots of resources out there for Christians who are struggling and wrestling with their faith. There are answers to our questions. Or at least ways of getting perspective on our questions so that perhaps they don’t feel so overwhelming. If you don’t know of such resources, ask your pastor or someone, again, that you trust. By that, I don’t mean Google. Not everything on the internet is reliable and helpful.
I can speak from personal experience that having serious spiritual questions can be disorienting. If we’ve believed something our whole life and we find that we’re questioning it, we can feel unmoored, without a secure anchor, and that can feel a little unsettling.
But I also know from experience that when you keep seeking and searching, asking your honest questions, that there are answers. And God can handle our hard questions. The Bible can handle our questions. The Christian faith can handle our questions.
So, got questions? Don’t be afraid, go ahead and ask them.
Below are some resources that might help you out.
One of the podcasts that I’ve been listening for years is the Unbelievable? podcast out of England. Host Justin Brierly does a masterful job of handling conversations between believers and unbelievers on a whole host of issues.
I would also recommend Apologetics Canada‘s podcast and their other resources. Often focusing on contemporary cultural issues from a Christian perspective, it helps Christians to have a thinking faith.
You might find the Ask N.T. Wright Anything podcast helpful too. Wright is one of the most important New Testament scholars around. Hosted by Justin Brierly of the Unbelievable? podcast.
I also recommend the Mid-Faith Crisis podcast. Hosted by one liberal Christian and one more conservative Christian, it really models how to have winsome, irenic conversations about deep theological and spiritual topics. The hosts are friends, play very well off of one another, and are very witty (in a dry, British way).