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Thought for the Week – 4th June 2023

Doubt as Faith

A few weeks ago in a family gathering, the conversation moved to a dead relative who had been a vicar. One person wasn’t sure just how much he actually believed; when she had talked to him he apparently admitted to doubts and uncertainties. I have to say in my conversations with him I never noticed this, but perhaps that was just me. However, I wonder if the issue was that, as a vicar, my relative was expected to be confident that he knew the answers to all the hard questions in life, to have solved the mysteries of suffering and to know precisely what would happen when we die. If that was the case, then I too will disappoint many.

As a scientist, I spend my working life grasping with mysteries and things I do not understand. As I write this, I am trying to work out why an experiment I did this week did not work; I may never know but I will carry on and try and solve the problem another way. I am comfortable with doubt. So it also is in my spiritual life; the only difference is that God is the ultimate in mystery; when I conclude a service by praying that we may have the peace of God, “that passes human understanding”, that is not a cop-out, it is an admission that there is a limit to what the human mind can achieve. Over the years, I have come to recognise that my doubts are just another aspect of my faith; they remind me that I need to approach God with awe and wonder, not trusting in my own intellect.

Rev David Poyner