When In Doubt
We go through life quite assured of what we are doing and where we are going. In a sense we are trained for this and to “be” in life what we feel called to or are comfortable with. In most areas of life we have a reasonable amount of confidence. But what happens when this isn’t so? What happens before major decisions and we suddenly come to a full and complete stop full of anxiety about the coming decision?
Perhaps for some people this doubt is only a fleeting moment in the whole process. These people are able to rapidly prepare an answer to the doubt, make a decision and move forward. But many find this moment decisive and live in some cases with indecision over doubts for a very long time. Difficulties are not just the great questions of modern times or philosophical questions of the ages. They can be as mundane as which shoes to wear, what car to buy or more importantly to each of us: the direction taken in life. There is a differing degree of reflection needed. Some are able to come to a ready decision, while it can mean being thrown into anxiety for great lengths of time.
According to “Crabb’s English Synonymes” (1917), “…precarious is the highest species of uncertainty…” And so we see where the doubt can take us. Without certainty all becomes precarious therefore throwing doubt into whatever process is to hand. It is living and working with this that makes life sometimes quite difficult.
We are not alone in our doubting in whatever we have to face. For many there is doubt as to the existence of God. And if He exists doubts as to His benevolence. Even in the Scriptures there were those of faith who also doubted at some point. Think of men and women like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Gideon, Peter and Thomas to name a few. Each had different circumstances but each came to terms with the doubt. “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9, 24)
In most cases doubt is replaced with belief when an internal question is answered and certainty allowed to reign. But how then to respond when in doubt? There could be any number of means, just as there are a variety of individuals. But important in the process to allaying fears and anxiety include time for quiet sober reflection, the amount of time varying with the individual; and secondly, enough information to make a reasoned and informed decision. An individual can then move forward from doubt to certainty.
Doubts are a natural part of human life and have provided the catalysts for many great developments and achievements. It is when doubt becomes debilitating that it is negative. Reflection is good. Continuous anxiety, indecision and self torture is not and will not help come to a decision. Sir John A. Macdonald called the Senate of Canada “the House of sober second thought” where decisions on new legislation made in the Commons would be reviewed before Royal Assent. That “sober second thought” can be useful in many areas of our lives, whether personal or in business.
When in doubt what can we do? Begin with taking time to reflect and study the question proffered, find an answer with diligence, find information to make the decision and the fears should be allayed about the direction needed. The doubt dissipates. Take your time and earnestly search for an answer. It will be there, the doubt will lift like a fog. Trust.