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A Presbyterians Today columnist describes how to be Christlike to all


Everyone has doubts, but not everyone has faith

February 8, 2023

The Rev. LaWanda Harris

In a world that is becoming increasingly indifferent to religion, more people are wrestling with the existential questions our human nature brings about. What is my purpose in life? Is there really a God? How can God exist when everything seems so unfair?

I hear these questions asked by those who see faith as an integral part of their lives and by those apathetic to any kind of faith. As creatures who can reason, think about the future and remember the past, we all struggle with moments of uncertainty about why things happen the way they do. Whether we always have been grounded in religious tradition, previously but no longer immersed in religious tradition, or never have identified with a religious tradition, the inner, existential struggle that our living in this world brings about pervades all our lives.

As a leader straddling both the sacred and secular worlds, I must discern how best to walk alongside all people struggling with the questions that weigh heavily on the heart.

I find it is wise to listen actively and compassionately. I cannot answer every question, but I can be a trustworthy and empathetic companion on the journey that faith and doubt take us on.

For those affiliated with a religious tradition, being part of a faith community that looks beyond what the world alone can offer is a grounding and emboldening experience. Even amid the questions that faith itself raises, the presence of a community that can grow together spiritually through its courageous questioning and communal discernment is not to be taken for granted.

Still, in an increasingly individualistic and religiously indifferent society, walking alongside those who are struggling with existential questions, including questions regarding the very existence of God, can be challenging. I do not think the aim is to convert others to my viewpoints. I do think that sincere willingness to be guided by the truth of who we all are as human beings is vital.

Our lives are imperfect; we were born into differing familial, societal and religious traditions. Still, we are made for communion with each other. When the uncertainties of this world and all the “why” questions about this life bear down upon us, we can act with humble boldness to let the humanity that unites us be the compassionate, driving force in the stagnation of doubt and unbelief.

No need to be a nurse or a pastor; just be a person who shows up ready to listen, support and walk others through the challenges of life, heart to heart.

The Rev. LaWanda Harris is a bi-vocational minister, serving as co-pastor of Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and working as a hospice registered nurse.

Today’s Focus: Doubts and faith

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Keenan Rodgers, Associate Church Consultant, Church Engagement, Board of Pensions
Lauren Rogers, Ministry Engagement Advisor, Ministry Engagement & Support, A (Corp)

Let us pray

Gracious God, we give thanks that you draw us and all creation toward your perfect will. You work through us to give newness of life to neighbors down the street and neighbors around the globe. We pray for all who bring your message of reconciling love to our broken world. Amen.

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