Dealing with Our Doubts

Dealing with Our Doubts

What we can learn from Emily Dickinson’s struggle for certainty.


Is it wrong for a Christian to doubt? One of America's greatest poets, Emily Dickinson, struggled her entire life to achieve certainty in her beliefs. What can we learn from her poetry about the risks of the Christian faith?

Table of Contents

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3:19; Psalm 22:25, 2224; Psalm 73:1218; Psalm 77:313; Ecclesiastes 3: 12, 1920; John 3:16; Romans 8:1011; 1 Timothy 6:1112


• The Issue

Sample questions:

What themes in this poetry reveal Dickinson's struggle to believe and have faith in God?

Why could she not surrender completely to God?

According to the article's author, Becknell, Dickinson felt that death was an "uncertain certainty." What did she mean by this?

• The Scriptures

Sample Scriptures:

Romans 8:1011: How do these statements on death from Scripture compare with Emily Dickinson's view of death? What hope does the Bible give us that she struggled to accept?

Read about Peter's doubt in Matthew 14:2831. What caused Peter to sink into the sea? How did Jesus respond to Peter's doubt?

• The Application

Sample application questions:

What do you feel is the biggest risk a person must take in becoming a Christian?

Becknell states that "certainty never came to Emily Dickinson." Do you believe we can ever obtain such certainty? Why or why not?

How are you struggling in your faith right now? Is there an aspect of the Christian faith that you, like Emily Dickinson, have a hard time accepting or applying to your life?


The Ache for Faith, by Thomas Becknell (August 1986, 11 printed pages)

Total number of pages – 11

  • Word Document
  • SMG-CLBS03-D