As children of God, we deal with doubts every day. We’re questioned, sometimes relentlessly, about our faith and beliefs. Sometimes, these trials and tribulations we face make us ask our own questions which hinders our abilities to grow with God.
Who recalls the term “Doubting Thomas?” This comes from the Bible. He was the one disciple that was always questioning, always doubting. After Christ’s resurrection and when our Lord reappeared to Thomas, he asked him… “if so, let me see the scars.” Jesus responded to him as written in John…
John 20:27 “27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’”
Christ has given us a race of faith to run as he had instructed us to do in Hebrews 12:1 which says to us “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” …doubt is a weight we simply can’t keep running with. We’ve got to drop it… Today!
A few weeks back, I spoke about our mission and what a difficult one it was. We confess our Love for God openly, willingly and with great joy. Remember, people watch us closely as they have their own doubts about life itself. We’re often looked upon for reassurance and belief that there are good people out there with kind and loving hearts. We simply cannot display our own doubt and deepen their dis-beliefs.
Let me explain a little further what I mean by doubt. Doubt is not synonymous with unbelief in the Bible — at least not complete unbelief. The Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus were full unbelievers as in John 10:26 – “but you do not believe because you are not my sheep”. But the man in the crowd who cried out “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) was not a full unbeliever, but a doubter.
Peter painted us a picture of doubt when he walks on the water with Jesus and then begins to sink. Jesus reacted to him in Matthew 14:31 – Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”.
Who was Peter? Peter represents the transformation of Simon, a Galiliean fisherman, to Peter… a leader of a religious movement prepared to challenge and defy the Jewish and Roman authorities… one of our Lord’s “right-hand-men.”
So, doubt is not the complete absence of faith. It’s faith laden with weights of unbelief, which threaten to sink us. This is why Jesus responded to doubters like the man in Mark 9 or Peter in the water or Thomas after the resurrection with firm but gentle rebukes calling them to stop disbelieving, while issuing blistering rebukes to the Jewish leaders in Matthew 23:33 – You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?).
Going back to the metaphor of Hebrews 12:1 (above), are you running with the weights of doubt?
It is quite often I experience my own doubt. I’ll find myself, at times, arguing or disagreeing with myself about simple, petty things I may encounter throughout my day.
This may be at home, at the office, out with my friends or even here at our Church. “Am I doing all that I can do; am I making the right decision; are my words going to be enough to touch at least one person’s heart or will my message fall on deaf ears?”
The longer we carry these doubt-weights the stronger their power over us becomes. We are often tempted to think that carrying the weights is a more “real” and intellectually respectable way to run. But carried long enough, they get heavier to the point that we wonder if the whole race is worth it or is, in fact, real after all.
If that’s you, I encourage you, don’t fool around with them anymore. Drop them!
But how does one lay aside doubt-weights?
The first thing we do is realize and repent. Doubt must be dealt with like lust or any other unbelief that infects our faith. Jesus’s word to us is “repent and believe the gospel” as in Mark 1:15 The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”.
Don’t be content to just tell Jesus how you’re struggling. Call doubt what it is: a distrust of God. Repentance has amazing power to break the spell of a sin weight.
We need to believe in the power of our prayers but, most importantly, recognize the answers we may receive.
We need to be reminded… God has granted us free will as stated in Proverbs 16:9 – “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” or as in Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Again, let us not forget the power of our prayers but realize that God will let us choose our own path and will only intervene if you ask of him (pray). It is oh so important that we recognize our Lord’s responses to our prayers as well. They may not be blatantly obvious, but they will come.
The second thing we do (which Jesus says in the verse in Mark stated earlier) is believe. Remember what Jesus had said to Thomas? “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” This is truly something we need to do!
Believing is a simpler thing than we often want to make it. I’ve just re-realized this truth. After tolerating certain lingering doubts for a while, putting them in the category of struggling against sin, I let go of them (i.e. laid them aside). And I was surprised (again) by how simple it was. It was not a rigorous intellectual exercise. It was simply obeying what Proverbs 3:5–6 tells us ”5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
If you’re wrestling with doubts, here are a few practical helps:
- Soak in the Gospel according to John: John 20:31 ”But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The book of John is about believing in or Lord and Savior.
- Talk about it with someone close that is also a believer, talk with us or talk with trusted friends and have them pray for you. God designed us to be encouraged by others’ faith to have our pride humbled by having others help us fight our sin. Don’t hide out of pride.
- Take some time to witness the miracle of God. Attend a Sunrise, Sunset or simply walk along the shoreline and have a conversation with God, Jesus or perhaps even a loved one that has passed. Don’t just speak but be prepared to listen. The words you hear in your heart, are those you’ve spoken to speaking back to you. Believe in yourself as they all believe in you!
- Most importantly, pray to God for his intervention. Our conversations with Him needn’t be “holier than thou” but simple and straight to the point. Believe it or not, our God is “hip-to-the-jive!” He will understand what it is you are trying to ask for as he already knows your heart.
It’s time to lay aside the weights of doubt. They need not impede your race. Your Savior died to free you from them and he’s going to help you. Trust in Him. And keep running with your eyes fixed on him as it tells us in Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
*Please Note: We would like to give thanks to Jon Bloom, staff writer for Desiring God.org as the majority of this content comes from his article on the same topic. Thank you Mr. Bloom for helping us to share the Word of our Lord.