Faith & Doubt

Dec 5 / Alyssa Bell
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This nursery hymn is so familiar to most Christians that it has become an unofficial creed or statement of faith. I believe it, I sing it with my children, and yet…

What do we do with our faith when something happens that leaves us questioning Jesus’ love for us? What do we do when what we thought we knew all along seems to be unraveling before our eyes? What do we do when the Bible doesn’t seem to have all the answers? Often, these emerging questions lead us to a place of fear and even silence. We stuff the questions down, trying to put on a face of faith so that we are “good Christians.” 

Over the last several years, God has graciously reminded me through Scripture, the Spirit, and a faithful community that my questions are welcome. I was invited to bring my questions with my faith as a package deal, knowing that the Spirit comes alongside me as my teacher and my friend. I love what A.J. Swodoba says in his book After Doubt: “There’s often no greater act of faith and fidelity to God than baring one’s deepest held beliefs to divine criticism so that God might be loved more. To put it more simply: kicking the tires doesn’t mean you hate the car.”[1] God doesn’t punish doubt, God is our companion in doubt. 

I am delighted to offer a 4 week “Faith & Doubt” course designed to explore how God and the Scriptures invite us to bring our whole selves to the table, doubts and all. Perhaps in authenticity with our doubts we can find deeper spiritual freedom. Join me by signing up today. 

Reflection Questions:
1. What wonderings do you carry with you about your faith and/or the Bible?
2. What would it look like to exchange fear for curiosity when doubts arise?

Creating a Rhythm of Life 

As I am writing this post, I just finished composing a sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, a season of waiting and preparation. It feels right somehow, to end one season and move intentionally into another. Our Christian traditions have these rhythms: the ebbs and flows of celebration and lament, of death and resurrection, of waiting and welcoming. Rhythms provide hooks for us to grasp as we move through the year, or through seasons of our faith. Rhythms invite us to a posture of noticing what the Spirit is up to both within ourselves and in the spheres that extend beyond us. 

For centuries, Christians have been living out rules, or rhythms of life. Ruth Haley Barton says a rhythm of life answers the question: “How do I want to live so I can be who I want to be?”[2] I have found that my own rhythm reminds me who I am and whose I am. We need these reminders to root us in Christ, who holds all things (even us!) together.[3]

A rhythm is not a set of rules to follow. It may involve certain spiritual practices, habits, or ways of engaging with your community, but these are invitations, not “shoulds”. A Rhythm of Life is spiritual scaffolding that offers grounding in Christ and freedom in his Spirit. 

If you are curious about how to create a Rhythm of Life, I would love to have you join me in this 4 week course. Sign up today!

Reflection Questions:
1. What rhythms do you already practice that remind you who you are and whose you are?
2. Is there a spiritual practice you would like to experiment with in the New Year?

[1] A.J. Swodoba, After Doubt: How to Question Your Faith without Losing it (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2021), 15. 
[2] Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006), 147. 
[3] Colossians 1:17
Alyssa Bell
Alyssa Bell is a tent-making Co-Associate Pastor at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Spokane, WA along with her husband Matthew. They have two daughters, Theresa and Susie. While serving the church, which she loves, she pursues complimentary vocational avenues like teaching and spiritual direction. Alyssa recently completed her Doctor of Ministry degree in Leadership and Spiritual Formation and is in the Spiritual Direction Training Program through the Companioning Center. She has a heart for mothers who minister, either in a church setting or elsewhere. For fun Alyssa enjoys walking, making music, reading mystery novels, and completing puzzles.