Q & R: Doubt in college – what should I do?

Here’s the Q:

Hi, my name is yyy. I’m a Freshman in college and I’ve been keeping up with your blog for a few months now. I also read your book, A Generous Orthodoxy. I really admire and respect your perspective on things; thank you for sharing your thoughts through your blog. Your words have encouraged me.
In a nutshell, I’ve been struggling with doubt and unbelief in God for a few years now. I used to be a strong Christian and I once felt extremely close to God, but out of nowhere, I started questioning everything about my faith, which progressively led me to abandon my faith. For a few years I remained in a state of uncertainty, treading on the line between agnosticism and hard core atheism. Recently, I have felt God calling me back to Him, despite my continual skepticism about God and the Bible. Through much prayer, I decided to take that leap of faith and recommit my life back to God. I now find myself depending His Message (Bible) even though I still struggle with doubts about His existence at times. However, it seems that He has blessed me with just enough faith to push through the doubts and ultimately follow him (by obeying His Way, prayer, etc.).
I guess I just wanted to know if you’ve ever had any personal experiences with doubt in your spiritual journey. What advice might you possibly be able to give me as one who is struggling with faith on a daily basis, yet strives to hold on? Sometimes I get depressed because I feel like what I’m doing–taking a chance on God–doesn’t matter. I feel discouraged at times, like I’m not really saved because I doubt so much, and in God’s own existence, among all things! Despite my intellectual opposition, I deeply desire to follow Jesus and I want more than anything to believe in Him with a sincere, authentic faith. What should I do?
Also, I’ve tried to believe in the “miracles and healings” that some people testify about, but I find it hard with all of the exaggeration and dishonesty going on around the church, especially in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. Science also doesn’t help my reasoning on the subject. I feel you are a honest and just man, but again, I tend to doubt everything and everyone. I can’t help it.
Any encouragement would be greatly appreciated, Brian. Perhaps you could pray for me?
I will eagerly await your response. Thank you for taking the time to read this. 🙂

Here’s the R:

Thanks so much for your note. As you may know, I used to teach college, and I’ve always had a special concern for students – in large part because during college, I went through periods of deep questioning and doubt, and I felt I had nobody to turn to.
Yes, I will pray for you … and there’s so much I’d like to say about this important subject. Let me suggest a couple things …
1. On this blog, search for the word “doubt” and you’ll find a lot of places where I’ve written about this over the years.
2. All of your doubts are important. They’re telling you something – questions you need to ask, issues you need to explore. Some of the questions that have been beneath many of my doubts are addressed in my books A New Kind of Christian and A New Kind of Christianity.
3. On a more personal level, I wrote a book called Naked Spirituality to help people stay connected with God through and even because of their doubts.
I know books can be expensive, so you can probably find these books in your school library, and if not, ask a favorite professor or chaplain and they might have one to lend you. They might even be willing to read and discuss the books with you … and give you some safe space to explore your questions and doubts.
Doubt, I believe, can be a portal to a deeper kind of faith, just as an injury can be the beginning of greater strength and health if we respond to it wisely. Let me know if I can be of further help.