On the Corner
A prayer of Thanksgiving
by Robert Docter –
You tell me doubt is Devil-born.
There lives more faith in
Believe me, than in half the creeds.
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
I don’t suppose doubt will be mentioned in many Thanksgiving prayers as families and friends assemble amidst the noise of happy voices and the aroma rising from a table heavy with food.
A casual review of any concordance fails to find even a single positive scriptural endorsement of doubt. We are taught here that any excursion into doubt would result in serious threat to faith.
I doubt it.
I think it all depends what one does with doubt, because I don’t think it can be avoided. It drives one either to a risky challenge of growth or to a swallowed wallow in guilt. The first leads to a thoughtful examination of the entire nature of faith and its relationship to thought, and the second leads only to brain-stuck— that posture of self-presumed indecisive unconfidence, an assumption of incompetence, an absence of trust and serious stomach problems.
Doubt, you see, is the flip side of thought. It’s a shadow in the thought process.
We have this magnificent brain—the most developed of any of God’s creation. We can analyze and solve problems, predict the future, weigh alternatives, and then have the power to make a choice. (Let’s not forget to thank God for brains—and let’s respect the gift by using it wisely.)
All of this thinking and all of these options growing from it create doubt. It’s uncertainty of opinion—the motivator of a questioning point of view. Once in awhile it forces a pause in an action—and sometimes it stimulates creative thought. So this kind of doubt, primarily intellectual, can be very helpful to us, promote humility, lead to broader discussion, and reach more effective conclusions.
Doubt can also create an uncertainty of self. One is intellectual and the other relates to feeling. We don’t worry too much about the intellectual side of doubt. We know there are ways we can deal with that kind of uncertainty. The feeling side, however, is another story altogether. It’s heavy and dark. We begin to question our very ability to decide, and, sometimes, this forces us into immobility and depression. We have such negative feeling that our thoughts become lost in the quagmire of self-contempt. Not a good place to be.
Interestingly, we can confront doubt with faith—a belief in a spiritual support system that can enrich our lives and give us the confidence necessary to decide. In the process, the doubt facilitates an increase in the intensity of our faith.
So—among those parts of my life for which I will offer thanks on this Thanksgiving Day will be—doubt. I will find its brightness, I will revel in its challenge, I will sort through matters of my indecisiveness, and I will make God part of the process. In doing this, I will listen for a “still small voice” encouraging me to greater faith and a stronger connection with him.
I will: Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt (TENNYSON) as I encourage you to:
Grab your coat and get your hat,
Leave your worries (doubts) on the
And direct your feet
To the sunny side of the street.