Doubt to various degrees is known to every Christian. One might struggle to believe in God’s existence; another might struggle more to believe that God truly loves her. I’d like to offer a few practical ways to combat the temptation to doubt, though there are far too many to list in one entry.
1. Is God not speaking to you? Try listening to His Holy Word. My favourite Scriptural passage for when I am tempted to give up on God or His Church is John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Sometimes those words make me laugh: truly He has me fenced in, as Psalm 139 suggests!
2. If you aren’t in the mood for listening, talk to Him! I find it especially helpful to do this in front of the Tabernacle or before Him in the monstrance. Tell Him exactly what’s in your heart and mind—He knows already, so it’s really only a means of bringing things to light to yourself! You may suddenly hear yourself saying things that are objectively ridiculous: “You don’t really love me!” … only to realize you’re sulking like a child that has been denied a treat.
3. If you have a love for music, sing a hymn! St Augustine did say that singing is praying twice. A song of praise or thanksgiving or surrender can move the heart to true devotion.
4. For me, the most immediately effective way of building up my faith in God (and my love for Him) is to talk about Him with others. Sharing my faith with others makes me realize anew how real He is! He is not just someone in my heart and mind, but He is outside of me, and so much greater! It’s extremely helpful to surround yourself with a community of fellow believers.
5. Do nothing. No really! Silent prayer is indispensible. One of the most impressive things my father ever said to me (and that’s saying a lot), was “Madeleine, leave some room for the Holy Spirit to work!” What is implied here is that you are learning to trust, and learning to be sensitive to God’s presence. One way to foster this even more is to sit with Him. I was trying to think of an analogy in my human relationships to silent prayer, where we can be close to someone and not say anything, and I came up with this: silent prayer is like cuddling with God. I think this image is especially relevant to doubters when I remember those times when I was small and my mother would try to cuddle me to sleep and I really didn’t want to fall asleep! Or consider the child who wants to keep playing instead of cuddle her mummy! But God, like my mother, knows what is best for me.
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