One summer during high school, I spent a couple of weeks with a well-meaning adult who aggressively tried to undermine everything I believed about Jesus. The man inundated me with anti-Christian arguments I had never considered before and ran circles around my partially-developed 14-year-old brain. By the end of our time together, my faith was in shambles.
I returned to tenth grade, played the role of a good Christian teenager and tried to ignore all the doubts that were eating at me. It did not work.
Over the next few years, that man and his doubts remained firmly planted in my mind and heart. And even after I eventually came to peace with the unanswered questions of my faith, I felt like I was still defending myself against him, trying to pull the weeds of doubt that occasionally cropped up in unexpected places.
God drew me back over time, allowing me to glean strength from friends and mentors who had more childlike faith than me. And then one day, I realized just how much work God had accomplished after a peculiar conversation with an atheist.
Waiting for Superman
I made friends with a godless libertarian named Ben who started prying into my faith in ways that reminded me of the man who nearly wrecked it years before. Sometimes Ben made thoughtful arguments about the believability of the Bible; and other times, he just asked provocative questions like, “If science somehow proved that Jesus never existed, what would you do?”
One day, we were talking about the birth of Jesus, and he asked if I really, truly believed it. I took some time to think about it, and then said, “Ben, I’m being completely transparent when I say this: I seriously believe that God was born into a human body, grew up, and rescued everyone by dying and coming back to life.”
He looked at me with a smirk and said, “So you’re basically saying that you believe in an alien superhero?” I paused, thought for a moment, and then said, “Yeah, that’s right. I believe in an alien superhero named Jesus — kind of like Superman, but with a beard and a robe.” And I meant it. It was freeing.
After years of anxiety about my faith, I realized that my internal argument was finally coming to an end. It felt miraculous. The promises of God weren’t coming true — they were already true — they were becoming more real to me.
A Child is Re-Born
Anyone with a Bible has, in his possession, a book full of wild promises, worthy of belief. I know that’s hard to accept — especially for folks like me who may have gotten all twisted around the axle of someone else’s unbelief. Maybe your dad raised a cynic in his image. Maybe your philosophy professor induced a never-ending existential crisis. Or maybe you didn’t need someone else to inspire your doubt — maybe you were born that way.
Ideally, we would express awe and wonder at the promises of God. But if you, like me, have languished for years wondering if the truths of Scripture can be trusted, take heart. Jesus knowingly chose a doubter for a disciple (John 20:24-29); and He showed compassion on a desperate dad who said, “Have mercy on us and help us, if You can” (emphasis added).
Jesus said, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’? … Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-24, NLT).
That’s a childlike prayer Jesus answers, and that’s a heart Jesus loves. So if you’re struggling with doubting and disbelieving Jesus, be encouraged. He can handle it, and He can provide the healing you need to overcome your unbelief.