After emerging through customs at Ben Gurion airport, we were met by our tour guide who hastily gathered us together and ushered us to the waiting bus. Once we were underway and cruising toward the coast, the tour guide took the mic to make a rather strange announcement: “Welcome to Israel! I’m glad you’ve come to visit our country! My name is Michael and as you’ll quickly figure out, I’m an orthodox Jew. I know that all of you are Christians and believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But, during our days together, please don’t try to convert me. I’ve heard all the arguments and I think very highly of Jesus. But please don’t try to convince me that he’s the Messiah.”
Ok… that was a little weird for an introduction to our trip!
The next few days were spiritually enriching and faith-building as we visited the familiar towns of Capernaum, Nazareth, Tiberias, and Bethsaida. One night at dinner, after sailing on the Galilee, I noticed that Michael was eating all by himself… so I went and joined him. We had a great conversation that eventually gravitated toward spiritual things. That’s when Michael said this to me: “As a Jew, I believe that the Messiah is coming soon and I want to be one of the very first people to welcome him. When he comes through the receiving line, I’m going to shake his hand, and then I’m going to ask him a question.” That’s when Michael paused. I fell for it, “So… what are you going to ask him?” “Well, I’ve got one question for him: ‘By any chance, did you come this way once before’?”
A few days later, we were in one of the rooms of the very sobering Vad Vashem. The pictures of thousands of Holocaust victims lined the ceiling. Michael was once again, standing by himself. As I drew closer, I noticed a tear rolling down his cheek. As I stood solemnly beside him, Michael’s voice quavered as he spoke, “This is why I can’t believe that your Jesus is the Messiah.”
Michael had lost his entire family in the Holocaust.
From his perspective, Jesus didn’t live up to the expectations of the Messiah. Jesus might have been an amazing teacher, but he didn’t bring justice and everlasting shalom to God’s people. Simply put, Michael loves Jesus, but he can’t bring himself to believe and he’s holding off on any kind of spiritual commitment … because Jesus didn’t meet his expectations.
So, what do we do when Jesus doesn’t do what we expect or ask him to do? How do we handle our unresolved questions, unanswered prayers, and unmet expectations? Do we just suspend belief and commitment? Surrender to the disillusionment? Or turn away in bitterness (like the crowds on Palm Sunday)? When doubts come… what do we do?
A few things to consider:
- Identify the source of your doubt.
- Share your faith-struggle with someone you trust.
- Consider your doubt as a friend to spur you on toward faith.
- Remember that God loves you and accepts you in spite of your doubts!