What to do when we have doubts
Have you ever doubted God's power to heal? Or doubted your ability to demonstrate His power?
Doubts need not throw us. They aren't a sign that God is losing His hold on us or that the probability of healing has become remote. Doubts about God are the bubbling up of as-yet-undestroyed misconceptions about His nature and about who we really are. At such times, the Christ, the divine healing influence, is urging upon us a new and higher perception of reality, and the material misconception is being exposed so that it may be destroyed and replaced by spiritual understanding.
Doubts come to most of us at one time or another. Yet the Bible reassures us: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Cor. 10:13. God is never the source of the temptation, as the book of James makes clear. See James 1:13 . But His ever-present love ensures that we can never lack the Christ-impelled spiritual perception we need in order to withstand and destroy whatever fear or discord we may encounter.
So what do we do when we have doubts?
A passage in Ephesians provides a helpful answer. Paul writes: "Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." Eph. 6:13–16.
The armor of God is mental and spiritual. Being "girt about with truth" entails earnest prayer, holding closely and consistently to the spiritual facts of being. God is infinite, almighty, and man is His idea, always dwelling safely in God, inseparable from His care. This trustworthy, provable fact can seem dark and distant—even unreal—if, like Thomas the doubting disciple, we depend on material evidence to corroborate spiritual facts. The challenging times wean us from our dependence on outward evidence and force us to develop spiritual sense, which alone perceives the actual tangibility of divine Spirit and its ideal creation. Spiritual sense is what instills a genuine conviction of the supremacy of good.
To cultivate spiritual sense—to rise above doubts and discern more clearly the truth that heals us—we may need to do more than we have done before. We may have to be more spiritually disciplined in our thinking, more courageous, more insistent on the truth. We may have to pray a lot! But it's all for our benefit, because through it all the Christ is changing us, working in us— rousing us to greater spiritual strength and dominion. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes: "Waking to Christ's demand, mortals experience suffering. This causes them, even as drowning men, to make vigorous efforts to save themselves; and through Christ's precious love these efforts are crowned with success." Science and Health, p. 22.
"The breastplate of righteousness" includes purity. If we're feeling pushed around by aggressive doubts about God and His omnipotence, we may need to reassess where our thoughts are tending. Perhaps we've been acceding to a selfish, sensual view of life. This tends to rob us of our dominion: impure strains of thought make us more susceptible to the currents of fear, doubt, or disease, because impurity would enthusiastically build up matter and evil as reality.
By contrast, purity of thought keeps us on the path Spiritward. A breastplate protects the heart, and purity keeps our love for God strong, even during challenging times. Purity partakes of the qualities of infinite Soul and fosters spiritual receptivity. It helps us discern God's constant presence and loving care for man. It makes us naturally trust God.
As for the footwear of this armor, do we go forth each day equipped with "the gospel of peace"—the "good news" of spiritual reality that Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated, and that Christian Science now explains in its fullness? Having our feet shod with this gospel takes preparation, daily prayer for ourselves before we launch into the day. Daily affirming, and deeply realizing in prayer, the true nature of God and man develop greater consistency of spiritual perception. And this helps crowd out the doubts that worldly, materialistic currents of thought would constantly present to us. It helps us gain increasing dominion over the frightened sense that we're vulnerable, fleshly beings, distant from our creator. Man in God's likeness is one with his divine Principle, Love, and is governed only by Him. And this likeness is what each of us really is.
Finally, "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." Faith is the quality that keeps us going even through the worst of the storm. The suggestion may come strongly that our prayer isn't effective, that our best efforts won't be good enough. But faith in the power of God's Word, faith in the effectiveness of prayer, and most of all faith in God as the supreme Principle and Life of all, will quench the carnal mind's efforts to push us away from divine Truth.
Even while we seem to be struggling with doubt or fear, we are actually safe in God, because the man that He creates (the man that we really are) already lives in God as His idea. This idea is not a mortal, wrestling with fear or sin, but is the expression of God's nature. Man therefore already has (expresses) the Mind of Christ and is not struggling for it. He already reflects the purity of Soul, the harmony and dominion of omnipotent Spirit, the undecaying substance of divine Life. These truths protect us as we rely on them and work to demonstrate them. They are divine laws, which manifest God's power in our experience. They are evidence that God is working with us—sustaining, guiding, strengthening us, even during the challenging times.
We don't need to be pushed around by doubt. We all have the capacity to rouse ourselves spiritually, put on the armor of God, and be firm in our conviction of the reality of man's perfection and God's omnipotence.