Which Is Better? Knowing or Doubting?
—Book Review of "I've Seen the End of You"

“The most important surgery I would ever perform would be the stitching together of my faith, my doubt, and the things I thought I knew.”
– Dr. W. Lee Warren

There’s a type of brain cancer I wish I didn’t know about. Glioblastoma.

And even now, I only know about it because I read something in a book about it. Thankfully, that’s all I know.

But Dr. Lee Warren knows much more about glioblastoma, and I’m glad. He’s a brain surgeon who cuts it out.

I've Seen the End of You_pin

Is It the End of You?

The bad thing about glioblastoma for Dr. Warren is that it’s almost always fatal. So when he sees glioblastoma show up on your brain MRI, he has to be the one to tell you something. To be honest. Yet still give you hope.

And choosing which words to say is a heavy weight on him.

It bothers him so much that he wrote a book about how to deal with it. About how to “pray for God to heal someone of something no one ever survives.” It’s called I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know. And I highly recommend it.

If the intersection of doubts and faith weigh on you as well, Dr. Warren’s words may help you, too.

It’s a book of stories, but it contains a faith thread from beginning to end.

When Doubts Come, Don’t Despair

When we believe God is good, yet we see bad things happening, we can question our faith in who God really is.

Dr. Warren wrestled with this as he worked on one patient after another, and lost one patient after another.

But then a deep tragedy occurred in his own life. And all his doubts surfaced to a new level.

“Did I really believe, or did I believe I was supposed to believe?”

Instead of insisting on certainty in every aspect of his faith, he made peace with his doubts. He even came to see the necessity of doubts.

“I have learned that doubt is not the enemy of faith. The enemy of faith is often the things we think we know.”

Thinking we’ve already arrived, that we already know it all, can be the end of us.

But doubting? Doubting can keep us pushing forward to learn more.

It can motivate us to keep searching for things we’ve gotten wrong, and “like a good scientist, reform our hypothesis and reframe our beliefs.”

Dr. Warren says,

Doubt is not fatal if we recognize it for what it is: a smudge on the lens. When we realize that, wipe it clear, and put the glasses back on, we’ll be okay. The things we think we know are more like cataracts. They can obscure and blind us to the truth of God’s work around us that is plain to see when our eyes are healthy.”

While there are things we can know and rely on as foundational truths, there are other things we think we know but that aren’t reliable. Those are the things I’d rather doubt than *know* because they prevent me from seeing the real truths.

But how can we know the difference between the two? That’s our work to do.

Just the Beginning

I don’t want smudges on my glasses. When I notice them, I take my glasses off, wipe them clean, then put them back on. And see clearer once again.

I want to do the same with my doubts.

I hope no one I know personally gets a diagnosis of glioblastoma. Because I don’t want to see the end of them.

But as Dr. Warren says, there is always more to the story. Faith is stronger than doubt.

Maybe we’ve seen just the beginning.


Your thoughts?

Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah and
Net Galley for the review copy of this book

sharing with Grace & Truth, Jen, Teresa

14 thoughts on “Which Is Better? Knowing or Doubting?
—Book Review of "I've Seen the End of You"

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    Thanks for the review Lisa. I like that you show how it affected you. I also appreciate the humility Dr. Warren seems to exude in his book. So often, physicians act as though they know it all. I’m glad he has doubts but also knows where to take those doubts. I’m going to look into this book because of your review.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I think you would really like this book too, Bill. Dr. Warren does write from a humble position, even though he’s achieved a lot. Interestingly, many of his stories are located in the hospital where my grandkids were born in south Alabama, so that was a fun surprise to discover. But it’s his wrestling with faith and his compassion for people that are the most compelling.

  2. blankMartha J Orlando

    Oh, wow, Lisa! This book is absolutely going to the top of my wish list. I love what Dr. Warren says about doubts not being the antithesis of faith, because they are not. A former pastor I had was so very clear about that concept, it really helped me.
    Thanks for the review!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      This really is a great book that I can heartily recommend from beginning to end. I’m glad it sounds interesting to you too, Martha. Some of his stories are heartbreaking, but they’re true and important ones for those of us with faith.

  3. blankBettieG

    One of my dear friend’s Mother passed away from this awful disease. But I love the way that you ended your post, because truly that is the story that God gave her–the ending was just the beginning. And I appreciate so much your perspective on doubt. After all, Jesus met Thomas in the midst of his doubting, so He can meet me in the middle of my times of doubting too, as I let Him press me forward. Thank you so much for this sensitive sharing here today, dear Lisa!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, my, I’m so sorry that your friend knows about this awful disease then. 🙁 It sounds just awful. I’m glad that God gave her a sense of beginning at what we think of as the ending. I’m also grateful that God meets us in our doubts!

  4. blankDebbie Wilson

    Lisa, this sounds like a wonderful book I’d like to read. And I agree, doubts can help us grow. Those who wrestle with their doubts can come to a place of deeper faith. Having brought our doubts to Jesus, we come to know Whom we have believed.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I’m glad God isn’t threatened by our doubts, but instead uses them to grow us up in faith. It’s often after a doubt-storm that we take a leap of faith in a more accurate direction. Thanks, Debbie.

  5. blankJerralea

    I’m thinking of Jacob wrestling with God – he contended with God and prevailed. So it can be with doubting, we can grow through the experience. It shouldn’t make us give up! This book sounds very interesting! (and maybe a little heartbreaking, too …)

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’ve always thought Jacob was quite bold to wrestle with God like he did! 🙂 It’s an encouraging story that we, too, can wrestle through with our doubts and grow from them. Thanks, Jerralea.

      This book is indeed heartbreaking along the way, yet hopeful at the same time. It’s a good one!

  6. blankJean Wise

    wow I have to read this book Doubt as a smudge on our lens. That sentence is so good!! Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Lisa!! You find such great reads.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I think you would appreciate “I’ve Seen the End of You” as much as I did, Jean. There’s so much honesty in his words about his faith and doubts in hard situations. You’ll relate more to the medical aspect of it than I did. I’m sure you saw a lot of really difficult cases in your years in the medical field.

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