By Kate Ritchie
Christian circles can often view doubt as a "bad" word. The wisest of Christians say that doubt is a helpful experience, not just good, but also healthy, necessary, and an essential part of the Christian faith. Even one of Jesus's disciples, Thomas, is known for doubting the resurrection until he saw and observed the wounds of Christ. I've walked through seasons of doubt and complex questions as a Christian. As a child, I remember late-night conversations with my dad about doubts or questions about the historical authenticity of the Bible. As I've grown and had experiences in our broken world, I've often revisited questions in different seasons of life.
Christian parents, we should not be surprised or unprepared when our children wrestle with difficult questions regarding their faith in Jesus. We cannot hope to save them from these experiences, for in doing so, we steal from them an opportunity to grow in their faith and relationship with Jesus. We can, however, be ready to talk and walk through these seasons with them. I have heard that doubt is not believing something perfectly; instead, it's wrestling with something faithfully. We must create space for our kids to come to us and ultimately to Christ with their difficult questions and doubt.
7 ways to help your child struggling with doubt in their faith:
1. Pray for and with your children. God is big enough for every big question, so go to him with your child's questions. Ensure that your children hear you pray over them often. Sometimes our best conversations come out of our prayer time on the way to school.
2. Take their questions to the Bible and those in ministry often. Teach your children that the best students love to learn about their subject of interest. Teach your children to read the Bible and ask good questions. Study the topic they have questions about from reliable and credible sources. When they aren't sure what something means, teach them to study what people of the faith have written or said about those topics. If you aren't sure where to start, start with your pastor and ministers at your home church.
3. Lean into consistency. Although the Church is far from perfect, it is the Bride of Christ is called to the mission of Christ. Prioritize consistent family worship. Don't let a sport or club functionally be your family's church. Friends are some of the biggest influences in the lives of our children, help them foster friendship at church.
4. It is wise to recognize that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9-11). When struggling with your faith, there's a common fear that your questions are uncommon or that no one has ever had the same struggles or questions. Take comfort that no doubt or question is new to the history of our faith. The Bible and Church history prove the very opposite. Many of the most famous Christians in history have written about wrestling with their faith, which should be comforting and helpful to us.
5. Consider a good catechism tool. I highly recommend The New City Catechism book and app. It's an excellent tool for building a framework for understanding the Christian faith. It defines concepts and answers a lot of questions. You can start this for young or older children.
6. Remain watchful and prayerful for protection. Doubt is a normal and healthy Christian experience that has the potential to grow a person's faith tremendously, and our enemy often uses this moment for spiritual attack. Remain watchful and aware of spiritual attack and untruths. The enemy often tries to distract, disarm, depress, and destroy us, but we must stand firm and trust in Jesus. I will never completely understand all the details of how gravity works, but I do know that it does hold me to this planet, and tomorrow I trust that it will do the same. There are questions about our faith that we will not ever have the answers to in this life, and we must be diligent to trust what we know to be true and hold those truths as we wrestle with questions (1 Pt 5:6-11).
7. Remain connected to the conversation. As parents, we can feel insecure when we don't have all the answers, but this is ok. It is still essential to stay connected to your child's questions and thoughts and to remain the primary influence in their discipleship. It is ok to say you don't know, but that you will walk with them to find out.
Hard questions and doubts are a normal part of family discipleship. If you have not experienced this in your home yet, you will. Take heart, Jesus loves your family even more than you do. It will never be a waste of time to learn and grow in wonder of Jesus. Our faith will continue into eternity, where we will know and love Jesus face to face and forevermore.
Check back for next month’s Kids Faith Krate article highlighting two reasons that might prevent your child from talking to you about their doubt.