When Doubt Creeps into the Christian Mind: “How Do You Know God Is Real?”

By Brie Gowen 

I remember when I was reborn at the age of nineteen I had a Christian mentor who helped me navigate my life as a new follow of Jesus, and one thing in particular stuck out to me at the time, and still does twenty years later. I recall hesitantly asking her if she ever had doubts about God’s existence, and she quickly and without pause answered honestly “yes.” I remember letting out all my breath in a rush of relief as she continued, “Every Christian experiences moments of doubt.”

My friend’s words helped me so much at that moment, and I often think back on them in those unwelcome, and thankfully infrequent instances where doubt creeps into my heart. Like this morning.

I think it started with a television show I had watched last night, and as I stood in the shower this morning I thought about the poor girl who had been murdered by terrorists on the screen. My heart broke for her, and I am completely aware it’s silly, but in the series she had admitted to believing you ceased to exist when you died, and I found myself thinking about how her character would not be in Heaven. Before you think I’m emotionally unstable just understand that I realized it was a fictional character, but it did bring to mind that real people like that young woman existed. That is what really broke my heart; how a drama series on FX made me remember that not everyone is saved.

As I asked God about the eternity of people I did not know a swirling series of questions entered my mind, and the inability to completely fathom the decisions, power and emotions of my creator must have opened my heart to the hugeness of it all. Naturally when things are so vast and difficult to understand a sense of incredibility enters your mind, then a whisper of doubt.

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Is God real?

As I find myself in a more mature relationship with the Lord nowadays, when I’m accosted by doubt I shut it down quick, but the fact that it invades in the first place always makes me feel a twinge of guilt for which I utter, “Sorry Lord.”

I remember on the mission field when a nonbeliever asked me point blank how I knew God was real I answered quickly, “I just do.” It’s a feeling that can’t be put into words really, but if I were to try I would say it’s this deep certainty akin to breathing. You just take your next breath because it’s innate and natural to do so. Believing in the God who formed you in your mother’s womb is much the same. Belief becomes an existence, a trait woven within you, just as important as the action of believing. You just know that you know that you know. Maybe that’s why He’s called I Am, because He just is.

I could look at all the miracles He’s performed in my life such as healing me from Epilepsy. My EEG was abnormal every six months for twelve years, then poof, it was fine.

I could point to the knowledge He gave me in certain situations, like the time I felt an urgency to go speak to a stranger at the river, who later admitted he was about to committ suicide before I walked up. In fact I have a journal filled with all the times He whispered things to my spirit about others I wouldn’t have known had He not given it to me. To see someone crying and know the exact, specific cause of their tears is an amazing thing. But those gifts aren’t the sole reason I believe.

I could look at my life and see the proof. I could see that when I follow Him things just work out. Like they work out tremendously. And when I don’t, well, they don’t. When I have run from God my circumstances were the pits. But it goes beyond circumstance. It’s a heart issue.

I guess that’s a large part of how I know God is real, because when He’s with me I am complete. I know He’s always with me, but I can think of times in the past I didn’t acknowledge that. In those times I felt very alone. The future was dismal, the present depressing and void, the past always a painful regret. It seems to me that we humans are made kinda like an empty cup that only Jesus can fill, and when you put anything else inside you still feel empty.

I suppose that’s how I know God is real. When I fill my cup with Him I am complete, and any other time I am not. It’s apparent to me that I was designed for a love relationship with the Lord, and when I’m not in that relationship it’s like I’m a shell of what I should be. Yet when I’m seeking His face, resting in His presence and communing with Him in faithful belief I finally feel at peace. I finally feel like I am living my destiny. I was made for this, and that’s how I know God is real. That’s how I banish doubt.

In this world we’ll experience doubt, but thankfully we don’t have to live there. We can embrace what we know deep inside of us to be true, and we can live happily and fully in that truth.

About the Author: Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.