This week as I was reflecting on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, I was struck by the observation in Matt. 28:17 that even when the disciples saw the risen Christ alive and standing in front of them with their own two eyes, some of them still doubted.
I feel like I could relate.
I’ve always wished that I had more of the gift of faith. For as long as I can remember, I’ve tended to be a skeptic. One who doubts.
In my 20s and 30s, I could have slipped into agnosticism were it not for the grip of God upon my life. I doubted everything:
The reliability and veracity of the bible,
The power of prayer,
The goodness of God.
At times, I doubted the very existence of God… and I was a pastor.
It’s not that I was looking for an excuse to not believe. I genuinely wanted to please God, but I was riddled with doubt. Whenever a doubt raised its ugly head, I tried to stamp it down. It was like a game of Whack-A-Mole. Repressing doubts or trying to trounce them into oblivion doesn’t work very well.
One night I had a very vivid dream. In my dream, I was teaching a Bible class on the book of Jonah. Toward the end of my lecture, one of the students raised her hand and asked, “Pastor, do you believe that Jonah was actually swallowed by a real fish?” “Yes, I do,” I confidently replied. Then she asked, “Well why… why do you believe that Jonah was swallowed by a real fish?” There was a long pause before I responded, “Well, I guess I believe it because I’m afraid to not believe it.” Then she asked, “Well, if you believe Jonah was swallowed by a big fish because you’re afraid to not believe it, then what else do you believe because you’re afraid to not believe it?”
When I awoke from that dream, I realized that I needed to stop repressing my doubts or running from my doubts. I needed to actually do something about them.
What about you? Have you ever struggled with spiritual doubt?
Maybe you’re struggling with doubt now?
What are you doing about your doubts?
From time to time, almost everyone endures moments or seasons of doubt.
If we took all the stories of people who doubted out of the Bible, the Bible would be a much shorter book:
- Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s promise of a child (Gen. 16-18).
- Asaph doubted the value of serving God when he saw the wicked prosper (PS.73).
- Job doubted God’s goodness.
- Moses doubted God could use him to lead Israel out of Egypt.
- Gideon asked for a sign.
The Bible is full of stories of people who endured moments and seasons of doubt. And not just people, but main characters. But what made the stories of doubt in the Bible so great was that the doubters acted in faith despite their doubt.
I’ve come to believe that doubt is not the opposite of faith. Certainty is the opposite of faith. Doubt is a part of faith. Faith is the willingness to commit or act in obedience in spite of the presence of questions.
Doubt can lead us to a deeper and richer faith… or it can drive us away from God… depending on what we do with it.
If you have doubt and you do nothing about your doubts…. then either you’re lazy or you’re simply using doubt as an excuse to justify your rebellion against God. It’s wise to doubt your doubts.
A mentor once challenged me, “Quit repressing your doubt. Build your faith.”
So, what about you? How are you building your faith?