Christianity · Poetry

Doubtful Belief

Hello, everyone—

Below is a brief piece I wrote in response to a prompt asking me to create a 10-15 line poem mimicking one of the devices used in E.E. Cummings’ work. Since I believe his emphasis on visuals best defined his poetry, I focused on attempting to duplicate that particular effect. Enjoy!

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” ~Mark 9:23-24, NKJV

Doubtful Belief

I see You there in the midst of light

But somehow my eyes are dark.

I know You’re here

To love,


                             guide me,

But I don’t love,


                                                   or follow You.

How can I do it,


When You tell me to wait for—love You—

And       be        still?



Help me.


Explanation: As the title suggests, the speaker here—a believer—is ensnared in the bitterest phase of doubt. He realizes that this world cannot satisfy, knows deeply that the Lord always will, yet he is still hesitant to let the Word of God once more transform his mind, as Romans 12:1-2 states. “I see You there in the midst of light/But somehow my eyes are dark,” then, encapsulates this moment universally experienced by any child and all children of God.

We also get the sense that this believer is by no means ignorant of the basics of God’s word. “I know You’re here/ To love,/hold,/guide me,/But I don’t love,/embrace,/or follow You.” However, he is hesitant to express in writing the sheer contrast between the love of God and his own straying from the Father. Nevertheless, he does express it, though it costs him a rather painful surge of emotion and realization of his sin, as represented by the parallelism of the aforementioned lines in word order and the sudden change in line length (in a few places, one word per line, suggesting a sort of stammering).

After realizing both the immensity of his doubt and the contrast between he and his Lord, this nameless believer raises his hands in despair (“How can I do it[?]”). He looks at the world around him and realizes its furious, overwhelming, fearful pulse—or rather, the reduction of it, as the pursuit of the world leads only to death. This pulse I tried to accentuate by jumbling a variety of words with strong, bitter connotations (“Withdeathandtormentandachingandmaliceandgrief—”), thus suggesting that the believer perhaps has valid reason for his doubt. This is shattered, however, by the true, all-explaining peace found through leaning on God. I try to contrast the rushing furor of this world to the holy stillness by using normal spacing, then far spacing, then the only punctuation mark in the stanza that begs a full pause, all of which elements affects a sort of stopping to realize God’s beauty. This marks the beginning of the believer’s epiphany—a sudden discovery of what has been hidden—in the poem (“When You tell me to wait for—love You—/And      be        still?”).

Then we scroll a few spaces down, giving us a time of reflection, expecting something grand and beautiful and revelatory—yet only met with the two utterly humble words, “Help me.” This, friends, is the ultimate symbol of renewal. This believer is no longer satisfied with the world. He wants no less than God, and he wants no more.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.”
Psalm 34:8-10, NKJV



~Sarah Merly

April 21, 2018

Isaiah 53