TRANSCRIPT Episode 11: Doubt – honest questions

transcript accessibility accessible adam curtis leah sax Delight Podcast for new Christians and encouragement for others with Adam Curtis and Leah sax

Leah Sax:
Welcome to Episode 11 of Delight Podcast. I’m Leah Sax and this is Adam Curtis.

Adam Curtis:
Hello. Today we’re going to be exploring the topic of doubt with my friend Kristi Mair. We’re looking at doubt from the perspective of questioning God is there and questioning God is good.

Leah Sax:
Our guest, Kristi, engages with big questions of life with those who of faith and those who have none. She does this by teaching philosophy and apologetics at Oak Hill Theological College, and she also spends her time doing university missions. She’s also the author of More Truth Searching for Certainty in an Uncertain World.

Adam Curtis:
Hello and welcome to our guest today Kristi Mair.

Kristi Mair:
Hi. It’s great to be with you.

Adam Curtis:
And it’s good to have you here with us. Kristi We’d love to know a little bit more about you. Can you please just tell us how you came to know Jesus as your S aviour and Lord?

Kristi Mair:
Oh, I’d love to. It’s quite a long story. So I’ll. I’ll shorten it down. And how much time have you got? I was adopted when, I was when I moved over to the UK, when I was about eight or nine by my dad and when I was ten he died very tragically of a heart attack. It was unexpected. He went to post a letter and had a heart attack, died before we hit the ground. And I remember being in the living room with my mum and all of the paramedics and the local GP and neighbours who’d basically just come in. And my mum saying to me is everyone was gathered around, you know, it’s okay, it’s okay. Daddy is now with Jesus. And I remember at that point just thinking, what on earth does that mean? Because up until then, you know, I prayed before I went to bed, I had a great little children’s Bible. But, you know, God was just someone that I spoke to when I’d been naughty. And I was just kind of like a tick that I put in a checklist of good performance stuff to do. And it was when he died that I just started to think, this is the difference. He is the difference between life and death. And it’s then that I started to ask lots and lots of questions. I was very, very hurt, very angry. If there’s a good God, why did he let this happen? You know, we moved over to the UK, you know, it just seemed cruel that he’d rip away every reason that we had to be here.

Kristi Mair:
But I don’t have one of those kind of stories that I can pinpoint it and say, this was the time that I received Jesus into my heart and life. It was kind of some time along there over a period of three or four years as I felt like I inched towards Jesus and he was just standing there waiting for me. Maybe around the age of 15, 16, I read a lot of like C.S. Lewis, and I took my questions to certain places, and I remember my mum just chatting with me around the dinner table every day, and I usually end up in tears. And she just said, Kristi, why are you crying? I have no idea. But it feels like what you’re saying is true. And she said, Well, you know, you can’t sit on the fence, you have to make a decision. And so I did. I was around 15, 16 years old, but I can’t remember exactly what happened. But it was just the, you know, all of those things coming together that was just like a tidal wave of, wow, Jesus exists, he loves me. There is hope.

Adam Curtis:
Wow, Jesus exists, he loves me and there is hope. That’s quite a big realisation for a 15 year old.

Kristi Mair:
Yeah.

Adam Curtis:
Since being a 15 year old and realising these big sort of truths like how is your faith grown and been shaped and matured?

Kristi Mair:
I think partly it’s been through my mum who knows and loves Jesus. And for her there was no, there was no ridiculous question that I could put to her.

Adam Curtis:
Yeah, amazing.

Kristi Mair:
I think one of the frustrations I had early on was I had all these questions after my dad died and they were very well meaning Christians who tried to give me answers to the questions that I that I wasn’t asking, whereas my mum would just say, Oh, I don’t know about that, but I’m going to go away and have a think about it and I’m going to read a bit and let’s come back together again and let’s talk about it and you read a bit and we’ll chat. So I just I think having that kind of there’s no question off the table, this is an open ended exploration. This isn’t a sealed off one size fits all kind of answer to this huge reality that you’re living in really shaped me. So my mum course kind of other Christians as I’ve just grown in my love for the Lord. I mean yourself, Adam, you’re a dear friend and you know the ways in which you’ve pointed to Jesus over The years.

Adam Curtis:
You Charmer!

Kristi Mair:
Utterly phenomenal. You know Me, couldn’t help myself. It’s true, I think having people who are running alongside you, you know. And who would be there not only when you’re like, wow, I really see that. You know, I really see that God is real and loving me. But when you’re crying and, you know, I think the Lord is very kindly put put particular people like that in my path that I can go to in my questions. Yeah. So I think people actually people and books and creation and music and literature and oh, all the ways. All the ways. And obviously, of course, like most most importantly through his word, the scriptures. But I think as we move into the scriptures, we see more of him everywhere else. So that’s just a lovely gateway.

Adam Curtis:
What do you mean by that? As we push more into the scriptures, we see more of him flesh that out for me.

Kristi Mair:
Oh, flesh it out. Oh, I wish I could. I, I reading the Psalms recently, and particularly in light of the Ukrainian invasion, for example. They just take on a whole new meaning of what it means for God to be our refuge. And what does it mean in some of the Psalms where David says that God will protect me from my enemies and my foes? It takes on a whole new kind of lived vitality when you’re not just thinking, this is true, this is something that happened. But when you’re experiencing that in your own life, you’re able to kind of move into that in a whole new way and see God’s power and presence. And so Scripture, again, in and of itself, isn’t a boxed off, sealed thing that you have to understand to know it. It’s also a window through which you see the rest of the world. And I guess, you know, people have written about it as a lens through which we not only are able to understand and interpret the world, but it helps us to see the world in all its beauty as well as in all of its darkness as well. We see things more Truly.

Kristi Mair:
As we kind of dwell in the scriptures. We see more of Christ’s work in the lives of saints that have gone before us, and I think that helps us to trace his own kind of fingerprints in our own lives and in what’s going on in the world around us.

Adam Curtis:
Tracing of fingerprints in your own life. As you’ve done some of that tracing, what have you seen God’s hand doing in your life?

Kristi Mair:
Oh. Is this is like my memoirs? I should crack them out. Yeah.

Adam Curtis:
Of course. You’ve written your memoir.

Kristi Mair:
Maybe this is part the things we’re talking about today, isn’t it? It’s the knowing and the not knowing. There are some things that I can look back. For example, I look at my dad’s death. I still really don’t have much of a clue as to why that happened. But as I look back now and I see God’s goodness with me through the Holy Spirit, I see that there are certain things that have happened that would not have happened if he hadn’t have died. And I think that is a tension, isn’t that we see in the scriptures that death is the final enemy and yet death is lost, its sting, the Lord is over, all of these things.

Adam Curtis:
So you spend a lot of your time, Kristi, engaging with university students, Christians and non Christians exploring Christianity together. What are some of the struggles of that? What are some of the joys of that? Why did you spend so much time doing that?

Kristi Mair:
Good question. Thanks so much, Adam. Oh, that is so nice.

Adam Curtis:
Kristi is a lady of affirmation.

Leah Sax:
Oh, my goodness. I’m like, Adam, I too find your questions beautiful.

Kristi Mair:
I think he finds his own questions and his own face. Beautiful.

Adam Curtis:
On. You’ve got a face like this. There’s one way to find it.

Leah Sax:
A Podcast

Kristi Mair:
I’m going to say this also available on YouTube.

Adam Curtis:
Move on.

Kristi Mair:
Ahh Adam, You know, I do it because I think as I look at my own story, I just think, gosh, other people are living their own. Obviously, they’re living their own lives and they have their own stories and they have their own questions and they have their own hopes and their own fears and their own joys. And it’s such a privilege to be able to to meet particularly kind of university students on campuses who are at that point where they’re asking these big questions, that they’re interacting with all sorts of things through their studies and through their life and being at that particular age as well. Between 18,21, 22, whatever it might be, it really is. As one of my former employees, One of our former employees used to say, Adam, yes, You know, it’s the last, best chance for them to to hear and to respond to the gospel. And particularly now that in the wake of new atheism and the people like Sam Harris and Dawkins, etc., there is no God and we’re quite angry about it in the wake of that. I think there’s a there’s a generation coming through now who’s kind of saying, well, you know, if if God is dead, what does that leave us with? There’s this kind of hunger and a desire to want to to experience something that is outside of what we can taste and see and smell and touch. And I think because of that, it’s such a joy to be able to come in alongside people at that stage of their lives and who are asking these big questions as they see how the person of Jesus isn’t a, you know, an abstract nice. We’re not even nice at times, but idea that, you know, Christians just look to you for comfort. But a real dynamic person who entered times in history, who is the son of God, is just wonderful to to kind of see I guess just see them start to think, wow, as I Did.

Kristi Mair:
This is he is the difference between life and death. He is relevant. He is desirable. He could be the the answer to my questions, but he also could be the question that I’m wanting to ask as well.

Adam Curtis:
Whaaa! I’m going to have to chew over That. Is the question I’m wanting to ask.

Kristi Mair:
Yeah. We often set the questions on our own terms, don’t we? And Jesus just comes in and says, No, that’s actually that’s not that’s a great question. But here’s a better one.

Adam Curtis:
Oh, yes. Yeah. And if we let him direct our questions, then, then we’re also letting him lead us to better answers.

Leah Sax:
Hi. Delight Podcast family. Did you know you can rate us on Spotify? We’d love for you to do so. It takes just one tap. Liking, sharing and subscribing really does bring Delight Podcast new ears. So thank you for doing that. You can check out our website at DelightPodcast.com. There you can find transcripts of each episode, more detailed show notes, including a link to Kristi’s book, More Truth, and Resources for Those Going Through Grief, as well as the latest blog by Adam on Doubt. You can find us on all socials. Just search @Delight Podcast.

Leah Sax:
So in a true sign of our current times, fake news was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2019, and authenticity is the name of our cultural game. We see it everywhere. And yet, apparently, culture trusts nobody. And we live in a post-truth world. And today’s topic of doubt sits massively in the middle of that idea of authenticity. We’ve come to faith, and then we’ve got questions and we’re uncertain and confused. And what happens if we sing and we don’t feel anything and we pray and we wonder where God is? And in our day to day struggles, we wonder if God is even good. What would you say to someone who says, if you doubt your faith, you’re a Christian faker?

Kristi Mair:
Ooo Great question. That’s just stunning. My word. Oh, wow. Well, I think I’d say a few things. I would say, no, you are not, well

Leah Sax:
That’s fine.

Kristi Mair:
No, I’m not a Christian faker. That’s the headline. No.

Leah Sax:
Great

Kristi Mair:
And then I think underneath that, I would say dark nights come before new dawns.

Adam Curtis:
Who is that? A quote from Batman.

Kristi Mair:
Maybe Depending on the type of doubt that we’re experiencing, they kind of arise in the form of questions, don’t they? Like, how do I know that God is good? How do I know that God is there? How do I know that this is what the Bible really means? How do I know that this is the kind of good life that Jesus wants to me? How do I know that I’m not just wasting my time? How do I know? You know, they kind of arise in all sorts of different questions. And I think what I really am learning, I think in my own day to day discipleship and time with Jesus, is that new days begin with not being able to see, okay, there’s a writer called Bryan Zahnd who kind of talks about this in his book When Everything’s On Fire, which is in itself is Fire. It’s great. And he kind of talks about how God creates out of nothing. You know, it’s out of darkness. It’s darkness that is the canvas for all of creation. And so there’s always this kind of dark night that comes before the new dawn, which which is just this kind of stunningly good news.

Leah Sax:
Yeah.

Kristi Mair:
Good News for us, isn’t it? Because I think often we think that our spiritual life, like spiritual progress, looks like I know something. And then I add something else that I know and then I add something else that I know. And we’re kind of building from this ground up, this this kind of well, this building, which is like brick by brick by brick. And then something happens and it’s almost like this, a wrecking ball that just comes straight through it. Yeah. And depending where it hits, you know, it might take out one of the foundation blocks. It might take out actually quite a lot that you’ve built on top of it. And you’re left thinking, my goodness, was I building in the right direction? Was this kind of foundational stone even in the right place? And I think that’s a problem of the way in which we view what it means to grow. In our In our love and understanding of the Lord. It’s not knowing, plus knowing, plus knowing, plus knowing, plus knowing. And Brian’s Zahnd e puts his finger on it in such a helpful way. I think he says that the spiritual progress is actually knowing.

Leah Sax:
Yeah.

Kristi Mair:
Plus unknowing, plus new knowing. So you come to know something, like you come to know that Jesus is is the son of God and as the son of God, he has come to He’s come to save his people from their sins. So that’s knowing, right? Yeah. And then as you kind of like move into that more and more, you then think, well, oh, well, what about those people who aren’t part of his people that he’s come to save? Does this mean that this kind of truth is only available for some people, but not others? You know, you start asking these kind of questions like, what does what does that mean? And so as you kind of move into that next question, you then move into a time of unknowing where you don’t know what the answer is going to be. And it might be that you might have to actually move back a bit and say, Well, what did I understand about what Jesus achieved on the cross in the first place? Was that did that? Did I have that right? Who am I talking to? What am I reading how the scripture is helping me? And then as you move through that question, you then get to the new knowing element of it, which is where you’re then you then build on your unknowing to be able to then move into a new bit of knowing that you didn’t have before.

Leah Sax:
I feel like my brain has just exploded in a very happy and I have to think about that for hours kind of way. And it’s just really helpful because it’s just it’s not this linear journey. Our faith.

Kristi Mair:
Yes, yes. That’s it. Yeah.

Leah Sax:
And so hopefully saying is that like doubt is a normal part of faith. You said we start each day with our eyes closed.

Kristi Mair:
Yeah, there’s there’s darkness before there’s a new dawn. And so that kind of unknowing part, it can feel like that darkness because you’re having to kind of go back to the drawing board, as it were, and say, okay, well. What is true? What is real, what is good and what is beautiful?

Leah Sax:
When you were talking to Adam earlier, when you were sharing your testimony, you were talking about times of questioning. Is that was that part of your knowing and unknowing and renewal process?

Kristi Mair:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think so. I look back at that time and I had to go through a lot of unknowing. I think I had particular assumptions about what God would do in particular situations if he really was God. And I think that is where his question started to kind of interfere with my own questions and help me to ask different questions. You know, I think about the the rich, young ruler. You know, he goes to Jesus and says, you know, what must I do, you know, to inherit her life? What must I do to kind of to be good and and Jesus just reply saying, well, well, why do you call me? Good.

Leah Sax:
Yeah.

Kristi Mair:
And it’s that, it’s that kind of question isn’t it. Oh yeah. I’ve kind of walked in on this conversation that he’s he’s had thousands of years ago. And the question he’s asked is, is why do you call me? Good. And so then at the heart of my question of how can a good God allow something like this to happen, is the assumption that I think that he’s good. So then I have to look at, well, why is he good? And that takes me straight to the cross. And it says, Then I look at the cross and, you know, I see Jesus literally dying for the sins of the world that again, that that leads into new knowing. So I’ve had to unknow something in order to to get me to the deeper question that Jesus is asking, which is why do you call me Good? And I think that’s I think that’s where as we go through periods of doubt, it can be really helpful to see that these questions, they really serve us rather than Sever us. They don’t they don’t sever us from God. They’re opportunities to actually receive more from him, you know, and often I think we’re as I am and continue to be, we can be quite afraid of these questions because we think if I ask this question, that will mean that I am a Christian faker. You know, what kind of Christian has those kinds of questions?

Leah Sax:
Yeah.

Kristi Mair:
And that’s what I think led to listen to. I’ve come across like deconstruction. You know, lots of people have a few notable kind of leaders in the States in particular have basically just come away from the church in devastating circumstances. And listening to one of their interviews, they say, you know, is suffering. Suffering is the big question. And part of their story is they’re saying, well, I just didn’t have an opportunity to ask these questions. And I felt like if I ask these questions, then then I wasn’t a real Christian. And so part of what’s led to that kind of deconstruction and walking away is not having had the opportunity to raise these doubts and these questions earlier on.

Leah Sax:
So affirming to know. That we can question and that Doubt is just Part of our faith and that God uses it for good. We often we don’t think thar. Are therer good ways we can question God and bad ways we can question God. Is doubt sinful?

Kristi Mair:
Wow such a great question. It can be. But also it can’t be. You know, I think in the in the Gospels, Jesus was asked 183 or 187 questions. And out of those 180 plus questions that he was asked, can you guess how many he actually answered?

Adam Curtis:
Great trivia.

Kristi Mair:
Ha! Thanks Adam!

Leah Sax:
I don’t know how many. I feel like I should know the trivia answer to how many actually answers. I don’t know. Tell me, Kristi.

Kristi Mair:
Three. He answers three of those questions. And to the rest of the questions that he is asked, he actually replies, responds with more questions, over about 300 questions. You know, that tells us something that these people are coming with questions. And Jesus often doesn’t give the answer. He just asked another question to help them to understand their initial question and what they’re going through. It’s the response to Jesus really that then will determine whether or not it’s sinful. Often it’s open ended, isn’t it? So like with a rich, young ruler and she says, Go away, sell, sell all of your possessions. And he walks away sad. But we don’t actually know what he did. We just know that that he was sad. He could have gone away and done that. But we don’t know. And so I think that the question really for us is, as we bring our questions and as we live in them and as we know that there isn’t really an end to them, in some ways, will this lead to further obedience or disobedience? So as I’m asking these questions, what is it that I am choosing to kind of affirm about who Jesus is as I move into those questions? So can I say it’s Job, isn’t it? It’s this Job all over.

Kristi Mair:
He’s a righteous man who is suffering for something that he he did nothing wrong. And so sometimes we go through those huge periods and and for him, it wasn’t so much doubt, you know, the whole world was almost kind of this, you know, this leviathan, this chaos was almost conspiring against him, pushing him to say, this is why I said urged him to do just curse God and die. Yeah. And he doesn’t do that. But he does question God, isn’t he? And there is a point there when when God says to him, well, where were you, Job? Where were you when the Earth was formed? Like, where were you? Like, God really puts him in his place. But there’s nothing throughout that book, as I’ve helpfully been been pointed to through Eric Ortlund’s latest book on On Leviathan, there’s nothing there that that actually says that that Job sinned in any of that. So there’s there’s almost like this a reminder there from the Lord. Where were you? Which is deeply humbling. But He didn’t sin. As we read the scriptures that it is more how do we respond to Jesus as we take our questions to him?

Leah Sax:
Yes.

Adam Curtis:
Yeah, because the further I go on in my Christian life, it’s not that I don’t have big questions anymore. I still have big questions to ask, but I realise it counts how I ask those questions and it’s sort of like the tone of my voice matters.

Leah Sax:
You’ve got a fun word for this, haven’t you, Adam? You go with the word posture.

Adam Curtis:
Posture. Great. But it’s true. What’s your posture? Do I have in my question? Do I have I got the posture where I’m basically like standing up like one hand on my hip, the other hand, like, waggling away my finger in like, judgement. And my tone is just full of anger and resentment and bitterness and judgement. And I’m like, This is my question, Lord, and I want you to answer it right now, or I’m going to stop living for you. I’m going to stop believing in you. I’m going to start following you. And it’s just like me over God, basically. Or is it a posture of of knees on the floor, of knees on the floor and a tone of like, you’re the Lord and I’m not the Lord, but I’m hurting and I don’t understand. And I really need your guidance on this issue, like what’s our posture? And actually, I think the question could be exactly the same in both situations, but the posture changes everything.

Leah Sax:
What if you feel in a place, and I use that word, feel, deliberately that God just isn’t there? Can you have a posture of humility if you feel that God just isn’t there?

Kristi Mair:
Absolutely. It is saying, isn’t it, It’s having the humility to say and in a weird way to say, Lord, I don’t think you’re there. And it takes so much courage to even utter that, to even put together that statement, because I imagine that for a long time you kind of not wanting that to be true. And it’s only when we really face up to or we’re actually articulate, we actually allowed you to come into that emptiness that there is then space to listen to him. Because up until that point, we’re probably just trying to scramble together, just pieces of an answer of our faith. And so I think even just to say, Lord, you know, we see that it’s that in Mark, you know, I don’t believe Lord help my unbelief.

Leah Sax:
Yeah.

Kristi Mair:
And that’s just a stunningly humble prayer. And you know, even in that anger as well, God wants that. He he wants the lament and the anger. And there is I think there is that very small kind of line, isn’t there, between there’s an arrogant asking or a posture that Adam was talking about. And there’s and there’s a humble one, but we can still humbly cry and be angry. And, you know, that’s that’s the entirety of the Psalms, isn’t it? How long, oh, lord, is this going to go on? Like, how long the wicked are prospering? How long? And that’s preserved for us in the Scriptures. Isn’t that amazing? Like, this is God saying more? Let me teach you how to talk to me.

Adam Curtis:
If we acknowledge this, unknowing, the unknowing will lead to new knowing. But for us to acknowledge the unknowing, we have to ask the question.

Leah Sax:
And it’s just so wonderful encouragement when you see all these questions and experiences and emotions and truth in God’s word, because you’re like God, like, I know you’re going to struggle with this. I know this is going to be a real part of your life. So actually, we’ve almost come full circle, haven’t we? Because talking about doubt and and lamenting and crying out to God is an authentic to use that buzz word. We said earlier part of the Christian walk, isn’t it?

Kristi Mair:
Yeah, massively. And we often feel like we’re walking into darkness, but actually we’re not. We’re walking into light. And that is, I think, what what potentially. No, the evil one wants to distract us with. This isn’t a question for you, Christian. Why are you even asking this? How could you even feel like God doesn’t exist? Yeah. And, you know, C.S. Lewis, I think he he is saying that, you know, for the for the person who comes along to church and actually stops going, they are living more truly than if they were to carry on going to church. And they’re probably closer to God as a result of it because they’re being honest about where they’re at. They’re able to say, you know, I don’t know where God is. And that gives me much more space than trying to be hypocritical in going along to church and think, Oh, no, I believe, you know, there’s more room to receive by saying, I don’t know. Then there is by kind of trying to cover that up with a pastor and saying, No, it’s okay. That’s that’s not that’s not something that I need to look at because those wounds tend to fester.

Adam Curtis:
I remember being at university and a really good friend of mine came and sat on my my bed and he was in my eyes like the guy who’s running with the Lord and doing really well. And he just said, he sat my bed and his hands. And I go to church every week. I’ve put up my hands to sing and I feel nothing. And I’ve felt nothing for ages. And I remember at the time that just felt like a ton of bricks. And I was like, world. Like, crumbling. What’s. What’s going on? Why is this guy doubting? But as I look back on it now and I see the fact that he’s still running with the Lord now and loving the Lord now, I actually can see that in His ability to articulate that question, There was honesty and there was vulnerability. And this unknowing led to new knowing, and this new knowing led to a strengthening of faith.

Leah Sax:
And a strengthening of your faith.

Adam Curtis:
And yes, as I look at it, yeah, that’s true as well.

Leah Sax:
In your friend sharing his doubt with you, you were able to see that it was a real part of being a believer and maybe the Lord use that to equip you to love people better in your own faith. Why would we want to fight doubt if it is a part of the walk? If it is a normal part of faith.

Kristi Mair:
I Don’t think I would want to fight it, you know.

Leah Sax:
Okay.

Kristi Mair:
Because I wonder if partly fighting it is what leads to that sense of I must have some kind of ultimate answer to this question, which when I have it, I know that I will no longer doubt or I’ll no longer, you know, live in this question. And often those kind of answers just aren’t available. That isn’t how we’ve how we’ve been made as human beings. And so partly, I think this comes into kind of bigger questions about our theory of knowing how do we know and what does it look like to know something. And I think often in our in our Western kind of post-Enlightenment context of living downstream from these big philosophers like Descartes, who’s like, I, I know that I exist because I’m thinking we often kind of rationalise our faith and we say, I know that I believe because I know doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. And that is great. So, you know, they’re the creeds, they’re confessional statements. We want that that’s really, really good. That gives us kind of an external kind of anchor for what we believe. You know, the creeds aren’t kind of like a rationalist kind of statement. That isn’t the way we know is by thinking about it in our heads. But that’s how we kind of view our faith. Like we know because I, I think about it in my head and I’ve come to this kind of conclusion. I wonder if, if partly we need to kind of just tweak a little bit about what it means to know is when we know something and if you’re interested, there’s a there’s a long terminology for this.

Kristi Mair:
There’s a particular thing called Covenant Epistemology, which is a theory of knowing according to this covenant kind of thing, is that when we when we know something, know it, not because we can we can wrap it up, you know, in a gift box and then, you know, give it on, you know, because it’s done. We know something because we can actually then move beyond it. So, you know, it’s like riding a bike, for example. Let’s begin with you’re on this bike and as you’re learning to ride the bike or you’re focusing on is kind of your your direction, your balance, the handlebars, the the pedals, and it’s making no sense to you kind of whatsoever. But there’s a moment of integration when all of those things come together. Yes. And you’re riding the bike, aren’t you? You’re not thinking about doing. And in fact, if you were to think about what you’re doing, you’d probably fall off the bike. So it just becomes absurd. Yeah, but you know that you’re riding the bike because in a way you’re not you’re not really kind of thinking about it in that way. It’s something you’re just doing.

Leah Sax:
It’s Life

Kristi Mair:
Yeah, exactly. And you, you then know that, you know, because then that you can then go on a bike ride somewhere, you know, you could go to the lovely Kentish, Kentish countryside and, you know, take it for a while or you.

Adam Curtis:
You’re a lucky person if you do

Kristi Mair:
That’s right. Adam You know it. And so I think, I think that’s similar to our knowing of not just of everyday things but also our knowledge of God as well, where there’s that element of knowing, unknowing and new knowing. And so when we’re thinking about questions of doubt, I think sometimes when we’re fighting them, we’re thinking language like resistance, you know, separate yourself from it in some way because it’s dangerous. Whereas I wonder if it’s more now I’m going to move into this because I live in God’s world and Jesus stands up to scrutiny and there will be an answer to this question, and I might not have it. I might not know it, and I might not know it completely in the way that I’d like to know it. But I trust that God will give me the next thing that I need in order to move through this.

Leah Sax:
That’s really interesting. Because I was about my next question was going to be, is Christian growth slowed in periods of doubt? But I wonder if you’ve just flipped that concept on its head. Is it is a time of being fed and getting more into who God is and that relationship I have with him.

Kristi Mair:
But often it doesn’t feel that way, does it

Leah Sax:
No! It’s the exact opposite.

Kristi Mair:
Which is why it’s only later on isn’t it, when you look back and you think oh actually. Wow.

Leah Sax:
Yeah.

Kristi Mair:
If that hadn’t happened, if I hadn’t asked that question, if I hadn’t gone through that, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Like Adam’s friend’s like unless he’d asked that question or that or was able to say to Adam at that point, oh, gosh, you know, just just what is going on. If he hadn’t have done that, that probably would have undone quite a lot. And he might not be where he is today.

Leah Sax:
So actually it’s super helpful to chat this through with other believers. I remember doing that when I was about what I was when I was 18. I was at Bible College in America, which for a girl from North London, was quite, quite the culture shock.

Kristi Mair:
Wow. Yeah, I Bet. Yeah.

Leah Sax:
I mean, I mean, I wasn’t a believer, but it was very different. And I just remember for that time and a number of years afterwards, just massively struggling with, is God there? Is he real? Because like, you know, we’d pray before every lesson and like there was chapel every day. I loved it, don’t get me wrong. But it was a real thing. I remember just finally, finally, because I just felt like an utter, utter fraud. I felt like a fraud. I remember just asking one of my college mates just going, What do you do when that happens? Like, what do I do? And she just said to me, and God just gave her just a beautiful sentence. She’d just. Just keep going. Just keep praying. Keep. You know, going to church, keep reading God’s Word, which in one way is very, very simple. But it was the most terrifying question I think faith wise have ever asked anyone.

Kristi Mair:
Gosh, well done, Leah. That takes courage. Let’s do that.

Leah Sax:
I don’t I don’t think I don’t think that’s me. I think I was just so terrified of if I didn’t ask someone. I was going to break. I think that’s that’s, you know.

Kristi Mair:
Exactly. Exactly. And it’s not accidental either that you’re at a theological college and that happens. You know, that that happens a lot when you’re going through kind of intense periods of encountering God’s word in community. Yeah, that there is there’s so much going on there, isn’t there? And you know, you mentioned, as you say, that feeling like a fraud and imposter syndrome and looking around and just thinking, oh, gosh, you know, I’m not like this person. And I meant to be growing in my in my love and understanding of Lord. But actually, as I’m learning more, I’m seeing how little I actually know. And that’s really frightening. Yes. I mean, what do I do with that? And I think, am I? Am I actually a Christian, I know that I am, but I’ve never thought that this was something that I should be thinking about in this kind of a way.

Leah Sax:
So how do we grow our confidence?

Kristi Mair:
You’re an excellent model of what one could do, which is to say. Which is to say it. It’s the name of it, isn’t it? Naming it, I think, frees us from it. And Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. And it’s that truth that sets us free. So he sets us free, but also naming the truth in our lives and giving it to him. It brings about that kind of freedom, too. But it’s messy and it’s painful and it’s not an overnight silver, silver bullet, you know.

Leah Sax:
It’s a long journey, isn’t it?

Kristi Mair:
Yeah, that’s right.

Leah Sax:
Because I was about my next question was going to be, is Christian, if we know we’ve just come to faith and we’re suddenly talking about doubt, that can seem kind of incongruous. Is there ways which we can prepare ourselves for those times of doubt?

Kristi Mair:
Hmm. Oh, that’s delicious. Yeah, and that’s. That’s something that.

Adam Curtis:
What a statement!

Kristi Mair:
It really is. Because I think that’s something that we that, again, is very common to lots of stories of people who just say, I’m an atheist now, is that they didn’t have the time and space they mentioned earlier to actually explore these questions. And so I think one of the best pieces of advice I’ve I’ve ever received is to have a theology of something before you need it. So have a theology of suffering before you suffer and have a theology of whatever it might be before you get to that question, because that gives you a framework then to live into it. So with suffering, you know.

Leah Sax:
And when you say theology, you just mean like a you’ve pre thought through what God teaches in the Bible.

Kristi Mair:
Yes, yes, exactly. Yeah, yeah. How does God want me to understand this question insofar as I’m able to understand it? What is there that I can that I can read? You know, it might be a short book or something, you know, reading obviously like searching the scriptures for it, that kind of just putting together just a small kind of library or, you know, podcasts or whatever it might be that like this, this wonderful one that kind of just draws the lines for you so that when we do suffer, we can we can bleed into those lines and know that we are we are held by everlasting arms, which will still be really difficult and really painful to go through. But I think it gives us that bit of. Yeah. I don’t feel completely floored by this because I’ve been prepared by the Scriptures to expect suffering and to know that God is with me in it and that there is hope for a new day.

Leah Sax:
So if I’m sat, listening or running, however you listen to this podcast and you’re like, This is exactly how I’m feeling right now. What can I do this afternoon? This evening? What were some real, practical things that you’d say to someone? What should you do if you’re feeling like that right now?

Kristi Mair:
Pray like a quick, like Arrow prayer to God. Like, name it. Like if you’re feeling that right now, then there’s probably kind of words and sentences that are just bubbling up or, you know, ideas or pictures, whatever it is, you know, into your into your heart and mind and just just say it. Just say it out loud. The Lord, Lord, I feel I feel lost. I feel like I don’t know the answers. I feel like this question has become huge. My question is this I don’t know if you exist. I don’t know where you are. Whatever it is, just name it to begin with. I’d suggest kind of talking to a close trusted friend about it. You know, send them a quick message, you know, just saying, Hey, my friend, have you got time for a quick chat? I just really love to to talk and pray.

Leah Sax:
And what if you’re that mate that just received that text message from a friend?

Kristi Mair:
Oh, yeah. That’s a frightening thing, isn’t it? It’s harder to be the person receiving it than to actually ask isn’t it?

Leah Sax:
I think at the same time, like like somebody sent me that message, I’d be like, whoa, I feel like privileged that they’ve shared that with me, like as a, as a sister. But if yeah. If you’ve just received that from a brother or sister, how can we love those people.

Kristi Mair:
Yeah. And again, I think this is where Job has so much to teach us. Not all questions stem from sin and not all life experiences do. And sometimes we can be very quick to kind of say, well, oh, you know, is there some kind of unaddressed, unrepentant sin going on in your life that’s led to this? And you know, you might want to ask that at some point. But again, as my colleague Eric says here, he’s like, I’ll ask it once. And if they say no, I just won’t bring it up again. Because It might. That might not be the kind of suffering that they’re going through that I wouldn’t start there. So I think what we see there is, is that the posture Adam mentioned of listening. Yes. And openness and knowing that you, too, don’t have all the all the answers and praise the Lord, because often we’re going to like I know I can do this. You know, when you’re with somebody who really you really love and they’re going through something, I want to be like, okay, this is what you do. To get out of this, because I don’t want you there

Leah Sax:
This is how we Fix the situation.

Kristi Mair:
Yeah, call this person. Read this book. You know, eat this food. Da da da da da. And there’s really good, like, advice in in some of those things. But I think to start off with, just listen. And that, I think, conveys worlds of meaning to the person who’s sharing their heart because they’re not expecting like a quick, rushed, cliched Christian answer. Yeah. And that gives them space to to share it all. And then you’re then able to say, thank you so much for sharing that with me. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be having some of those questions. But I’m so privileged that you shared that with me. You know, try not to read your own experiences into it, you know, or here are my big questions that I’m asking. But in a yeah, you know, listen, empathise and then just ask them, what would you like to do with this? You know, and often people have an idea because then at that point they’ll either say, well, you know, I’m just really looking for I’m just really just looking for a way through this. You know, I love Jesus, but I don’t see how this makes sense. Yeah. Or they might be somewhere else and they might be saying, you know, I’m just hanging on by a thread. And, you know, I really think this could break me. And you know, if they say that, then again, you say, thank you so Much for Saying that. Yeah, that’s often how we’re feeling at that at that time is there you know, shall we talk to someone else about this, that if you’re in a church like maybe like meeting up with church leader or youth pastor or whomever it might be. Can we share this with one more person, do you think? Because I really think that the more of us hold you, the more held you will be. Listen and just know that the pressure is off of you. They’re asking you because they want you to listen to them, not because they’re looking for answers.

Leah Sax:
Knowing, unknowing, re knowing and Jesus sets you free. That is quite a massive concept but is going to be part of everyone’s Christian walk.

Adam Curtis:
Yes. Yeah. And so those we shouldn’t be scared of it. We shouldn’t be scared of questions. But actually, we should be honest with ourselves, with the Lord, with like humility, knowing that like the Lord is the God of truth, and he will lead us to a place of like confidence. Yes. And as the help with distinction, it might not be a place of full certainty, but joyfully this will bring us to a place of confidence in him.

Leah Sax:
Okay Bonus Question Time, Kristi and our Season three. Bonus question is what are you most enjoying about God’s character at the moment?

Kristi Mair:
I was just thinking about I’ve just brought it up on my phone, actually, about Psalm, Psalm 89, verse 14, which says Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. And I’m on just ongoingly struck. That God is just and very thankful. That he cannot be unjust justice is part of his character. So I think that’s that’s definitely what I’m what I’m enjoying about him at the moment.

Leah Sax:
Thank you so much to Kristi Mair, for being our guest on episode 11 of Delight Podcast. We can’t wait to be with you again next week for Episode 12, when we’ll be exploring the concept of worship with Mike and Cat Brooks. This is Adam and Leah delightfully signing off bye.

Adam Curtis:
Bye

One thought on “TRANSCRIPT Episode 11: Doubt – honest questions

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