By Isaac Barnhart
Doubt can be a hard conflict to overcome. Similar to other trials and tribulations, it is a rough struggle to deal with, but I have a personal testimony to say that it goes deeper than most trials and tribulations. My struggle is one of intense difficulty, ranging from doubting God’s existence to even wondering if He is able to hear our prayers. Fortunately, through trust in God and consistently seeking Him out, He has revealed Himself to me and, in doing this, has given me many methods to combat this annoying struggle.
My testimony is one that is directed towards helping those who are doubting and weak in their faith. I asked Jesus into my heart at age four, making me a Christian. As the years went by, I began to doubt whether or not I was truly saved; I wasn’t sure if I knew what I was doing when I was four years old. So, when I was older, I affirmed my salvation, realizing that I was in need of a savior in order to enter into a personal relationship with Christ my Lord. It was a great feeling getting to see how God worked in my life, and there are several experiences that I will never forget.
Throughout my lifetime, I have struggled with a brain disorder known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, more commonly known as OCD. For those who aren’t sure exactly what this is, it is a disorder that forces one to obsess over patterns, positions of different objects, whether or not the stove was left on, etc. I struggled with these factors when I was young; as I grew up, I began to struggle with the compulsive end of the deal. These compulsions, which are defined as strong urges to “perform an act, especially that one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will” (dictionary.com). These ranged from the desires to stand up and yell at a singer in church to wanting to blurt out something extremely inappropriate while reading scripture in the church service. Although these actions are completely ridiculous, they are examples of what people with OCD experience on a day-to-day basis. I am very fortunate to not have OCD to the degree of actually doing what I’m thinking, but the desires are still very real, and their presence is felt.
My parents were very big on fighting arguments against Christianity, also known as the practice of apologetics; knowing how to defend your faith is very important, especially in a fallen world. I grew up hearing the arguments against evolution, postmodernism, and other ideals that are against God’s way of life. I thought that I knew enough to defend my faith; I thought very strongly that I would never have to deal with Satan’s attacks on my faith. However, I was dead wrong.
About my eighth grade year, we had a major unit on the theory of Evolution. This theory is accepted by many to be the explanation on how we got life as it is today. I was combating this theory day by day to almost everyone that I met. I’m very sure that they were getting quite tired of this. Soon after, I began to wonder if this theory could be true! Was there not a God, and did we really come to be by evolving? Did the universe really come to existence by a “Big Bang,” and was the Bible just a made-up ancient book? These questions haunted me for such a long time. Here is where it starts to get interesting.
For years, I obsessed over this. Because of my OCD, my mind is definitely an over-active one; it over-analyzes virtually everything it hears. This gets old quickly. I began to constantly debate with myself about God’s existence and how we did not evolve to our current state. As anyone in my situation knows, the constant debating with the enemy (I firmly believe these thoughts were planted in my head by the enemy) quickly wears you out. It saps your energy, focuses your intelligence away from what matters (school, relationships, etc.), and really hurts your relationship with God. Fortunately, I was able to dig deep into what I believe and discover the flaws in Evolution, as well as determine how the Bible was relevant to me as a Christian. It was very nice to finally know what I believed, and to be able to curb the doubts was also quite nice.
But this did not end my suffering. Although I temporarily moved out of the woods, I seemed to continue to get lost in the forest of doubts. Irrational thoughts kept coming into my mind about the existence of God, having a Christian worldview, and other similar thoughts. Thoughts such as “you can’t see God” and “Jesus never existed” really flooded my mind. I knew these were OCD-generated thoughts that are completely irrational, but it was still hard to shake them. That is exactly what OCD does to you: It picks an area of your life to dwell on and completely dominates your life by flooding thoughts about that subject. The most recent area was the existence of God, His son, and His ability to save us from our sins. As stated before, these thoughts were completely irrational, but dealing with OCD is never fun to do.
I must admit that I still struggle with these thoughts very consistently. It’s a tremendous struggle that shows no signs of letting up soon. I beg and plead with God on a day-to-day basis, but it seems that God is acting in a similar circumstance to how He acted when Paul pleaded three times for Him to take the “thorn out of his (Paul’s) side.” God left “the thorn” in there strictly for the sake of showing Paul that His grace is sufficient in our times of need. In our weakness, God is strong; the sooner we realize this, the quicker we doubters will get over our struggles.
Fighting these thoughts is really getting old. Thoughts such as “there are many religions out there, so how do you know that yours is the right one?” and “What’s truth for you may not be truth for other people” still flood my mind. Looking at them from an apologetical viewpoint, I’m trying to answer all of these problems myself; I seem to think that if I can prove them wrong, then my religion is true and I can completely trust God’s word!
The answer to these struggles is simple: STOP FIGHTING THE THOUGHTS. You will NEVER win this battle; OCD is not able to be reasoned with. Realizing that these are just irrational thoughts is the quickest way to recovery. I was such a strong Christian before these doubts hit, but now I realize that in my weakness, God is strong! God is refining my faith and testing it; as it states in James, the “testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). It also states that we are to consider it great joy when we are put to the test! That means that God is making you a stronger Christian! Jesus stated that following Him would not be easy; there would be all kinds of trials. Talk to any sincere followers of Christ, and they will tell you that this is true. Realize that these doubts are definitely normal, and to stop fighting them is the quickest answer. Learn to rely on God’s grace and provision, and you will be amazed at what happens in your life.
I have seen the Lord work. I have felt His presence. It is an absolutely wonderful thing to experience, because it verifies the sincerity of your faith. I can remember one time being so scared that I wasn’t saved that I was moved to violent tears. I begged God to somehow show me that I was saved. That very same sitting, God showed me Romans 10:13: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I can remember the relief that I felt when I heard this. I was saved, and there was nothing that anybody was going to do to take that from me. This is just one example of how God has worked in my life. There are many others that have just filled me with inexpressible joy. This type of joy is what comes with a genuine relationship with Christ. I cannot tell you what a pleasure it has been to see God work in so many ways. Feeling the Holy Spirit’s conviction is absolutely incredible; this fulfills Christ’s promise of sending a helper to guide us in His absence. What a blessing this is! Christ did not leave His people to roam the Earth blindly! This is how I know that Christianity is the real deal. God loves us, and this is very apparent in the lives of His people. I am really looking forward to what God is going to do for me in the future!
Learning to trust Him is also a big deal for me. A lot of my symptoms come from not trusting the future with Him; I keep trying to control the future. My personality type tends to do this; training myself to rely solely on God’s provision is definitely a struggle for me. Defeating your doubts has to do with trusting God and seeing where He will take you. I can assure that if you let the Lord lead you, you will NEVER go wrong. Ask God to defeat your doubts, rely on Him, and for the ability to trust God in all circumstances. Romans 8:28 states that all situations work out for the good of God and His people. This is such an encouragement. Literally ALL circumstances work out for the good of God in the Believers’ lives!
The bottom line is that for every doubter, there is hope. God has not left us alone; He has given us everything that we need to succeed. Literally trust Him in everything, and you will not be disappointed. Trust Him in your relationships, life events, and even for doubt relief. God is not just a concept created by man; God created man and literally does everything to sanctify His people. When you think about it, God is great! He is such an amazing God; He is as real as the back of your hand, and provides the necessary guidance for us to live a godly life. If you are a doubter, give God a chance, and He will NEVER disappoint! My testimony affirms this; God has been good to me, and my prayer is that He will be good to you! I thank Him for finding me and making me a child of God! What a blessing it is to be free from sin! Thank you, Lord!
Isaac Barnhart is a student studying Pre-Physical Therapy at Sterling College. Saved at a young age, he thoroughly enjoys serving the Lord with all he has and enjoys publishing articles from time to time. He is involved with many things such as cross country, track, church activities, and other activities.