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MIGHT DOUBT BE A SIGN THAT ONE IS TAKING FAITH SERIOUSLY?

  • If faith never encounters doubt, if truth never struggles with error, if good never battles with evil, how can faith know its own power? In my own pilgrimage, if I have to choose between a faith that has stared doubt in the eye and made it blink, or a naïve faith that has never known the firing line of faith, I will choose the former every time (Gary Packer)
  • I take great comfort in Christ’s gentleness with Thomas when he doubted. It reminds me of Psalm 103: “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” At the same time, Christ’s compassion didn’t leave Thomas in doubt; He revealed Himself to Thomas and gave him what he needed in order to believe. Knowing that Christ extends this same kind of compassion to me actually enables me to trust Him more ( Hannah Anderson)
  • Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • God made individuals in his image (Genesis 1:27), not programs or institutions. Jesus died for individuals (Romans 5:8), not nations or governments. We will stand before God one day as individuals (2 Corinthians 5:10), not families or churches (Jim Denison)

TEXT: Matthew 11:1 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

There is a song “It is not an easy road we are travelling to heaven for many are the thorns on the way . . . “. These thorns on the way seem to cause even the best of the believers to have doubts. These are thoughts that cause one to be uncertain and that cause hesitation. As one journeys, some experiences, memories, and ideas from the popular culture sneak into the mind of a Christian . Unfulfilled promises, betrayal, strong forces of evil, among others make one hesitant and even helpless. At the base are sneaking questions on whether one qualifies for God’s mercy. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). The truth is faith cannot block out darkness or doubt. Actually, faith is persisting in the presence of doubts and fears.  Questions on whether the unseen exists. That must have been experienced by the believers in Corinth, and is likely to have been what they were struggling with when Paul wrote “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19) That is what raises the question of whether it is okay to doubt one’s faith. Some seasoned Christians say the better question should be whether it is okay not to doubt the faith.

UNDERSTANDING DOUBT

Doubt is like getting to a cross road, and one does not know which way to go. Doubt is not a bad thing in and of itself. Doubt is a way of acknowledging one’s limitations that leads to examination of fundamental beliefs. In a way, the way doubts are handled is what filters out fair weather Christians. That is why it should be of concern when Christians have no questions because it could imply that one is not paying necessary attention to either their faith or the world in which one lives. Jon Nielson says, “I think that any Christian who hasn’t struggled with doubts – at least at some level – is probably guilty of not thinking deeply enough about his or her faith (or just not telling the truth)”.

Clarification of what the faith is about – That leads to gaining information that is basic to growth and deepening of faith.  As the English philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Doubts vary – There are those doubters who are just cynics, who are sarcastic and mocking. These are people who delight in just being critical, not seeking information or having a desire to grow. Another type of doubts is what arises when genuine disciples who were moving in obedience to Christ, focus on the storm. The Master is asleep.  Those moments when you wonder whether your prayers are being heard and the speed of the threat is increasing, doubts increase. Think of the disciples in the boat with a raging storm and a sleeping Jesus (Matthew 8:25-26). Jesus rebuked them as having little faith. No one is too righteous to have doubts. You can be a Jesus disciple, faithful, committed and determined , but shake up’s from within and without, make the clean air of faith have dust of doubts.  Thomas’ experiences of what happened at Calvary left him with doubts that Jesus could rise form the dead. “So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20: 25).

Doubts that lead to a search for the truth leave one deeper in their belief in God. Do not ignore those uncomfortable thoughts because hidden inside, they become like a virus that kills the ‘good cells’. Engage the thoughts, like a traveller who stops to check the map again. No need to keep going when you are lost. Do not go back either, stop, take the map  and check . That means as a believer, when doubts come in a given area or aspect of life, do not ignore, take time to investigate, remember the word of God is the compass that has the True North. Listen to the voice of the one who knows the way.

DISTINGUISH BETWEEN DOUBT AND UNBELIEF

Unbelief is wilful refusal to believe while doubt is being unsure, uncertain and indecisive over an issue. Unbelief is refusal to be persuaded. “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Hebrews3:12). Unbelief is being cynical and doubting that God is Sovereign and loving.  Unbelief is like contempt; that is what Jesus experienced in his hometown (Mark 6: 5-6).  He was so familiar that the people had a condescending attitude. Another example of unbelief is “When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him” (Matthew 9:23-24). The people did not see the possibility of what they saw as final, death being reversed.

Doubt is a question that seeks an answer. It is blind faith to ignore questions because on the day of shake up one has nothing to hold on to. Beliefs that are contesting to make the Christian lose their ground can easily overwhelm one who has not had opportunity to know why they hold the beliefs one does. John, the son of elderly couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, identified Jesus Christ as Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, baptized him and heard a voice saying Jesus was God’s son in whom God was well pleased. Yet at his time of difficulty he must have felt unsure. “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” (Luke 7:20).

In the matter of faith and doubt, the important thing is to be sure of whom we believe in. It is God’s view that we need, not worldview. The existing beliefs that are formed from our worldview could be removing our capacity to have a healthy view of God. Doubt is likely to be a sign that one is serious about his/ her faith. To get over the doubt without allowing it to derail you, it is important to find the root cause of the doubt. Be honest before God about what is not clear. If it is a demonic attack, you need to close the door and have your mind focused on the Lord. Search for information as you allow the word of God to renew your mind.  Deep within each one of us is a longing for certainty of everything especially that which pertains to eternal life.  Is the way you handle doubts enriching your journey of faith?

“If faith never encounters doubt, if truth never struggles with error, if good never battles with evil, how can faith know its own power? In my own pilgrimage, if I have to choose between a faith that has stared doubt in the eye and made it blink, or a naïve faith that has never known the firing line of faith, I will choose the former every time.” (Gary Packer)

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