“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2-3).
Some people have trouble with the concept that a Christian could ever entertain serious doubts. But there are whole books of the Bible that deal with the issue of doubt in various ways — Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Habakkuk. Many of the psalms touch on the theme of doubt and feeling abandoned by God. This is one of the hidden secrets of the church. We all doubt from time to time. Doubt itself is not sinful or wrong. It often can be the catalyst to new spiritual growth. Several years ago I wrote a blog entry called Is It Hard to Keep Believing? In it I recounted a moment during a board meeting when I said, “It’s hard to keep believing.” I don’t think I had ever said those exact words before, but when I did, every head turned in my direction. I don’t want to say that it’s hard for everyone to keep believing, but I do think it’s hard for many people. When I asked my blog readers to respond, they were quick to offer their comments. A pastor shared this experience:
There came a trial for me and my wife when
we knew that the Lord was using difficult circumstances to mold us, but
we felt as if He had abandoned us. I’ll never forget that moment,
standing in our kitchen weeping and feeling so very guilty for even
thinking that the Lord had abandoned us. Since then, the Lord has
brought us through many smaller moments of faith stretching, each time
using a brother or sister in Christ to remind us of His promises and to
help us lift our eyes of faith once again. It is so important to come
along side of a struggling Christian and share your faith with them
when they have little of their own.
Frankly, it is a relief to me to read these entries…sometimes I think we (my husband and me) are the only ones who are struggling in this way. The first response could have been mine.
When John the Baptist began to doubt, he did a wise thing. He sent messengers to ask Jesus for help. It is noteworthy that the Lord does not rebuke him or put him down or make him feel guilty for his doubts. He simply says, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5). He gave him the help he needed to rebuild his shattered faith.
Deep doubt is often the prelude to an even deeper faith. I love the way Frederick Buechner expresses it: “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” The greatest doubters often become the strongest believers. And honest doubts — once resolved — often become the bedrock of an unshakable faith.
At some point
you have to go “all in” on Jesus. Take your doubts, take your fears,
take your worries and go “all in” on the Son of God who loved us and
died for us and rose again on the third day. Lewis Sperry Chafer said
that believing in Jesus means trusting him so much that if he can’t
take you to heaven, you aren’t going to go there. I like that. If Jesus
can’t take me to heaven, then I’ll never make it because I’m going “all
in” on him. I don’t have a Plan B.
I ran across a statement that resonated with my own heart: “One who has never doubted has only half believed.” By that standard, I’m not ashamed to say that I have fully believed because I have sometimes doubted. But my doubts have only made my faith stronger in the end.
Come to him with your doubts, your skepticism, your unbelief, your hard questions, your uncertainties. He welcomes your hardest questions. Don’t let your doubts keep you from Jesus. Come to him just as you are—and bring your doubts with you. He will not turn you away.
when I am in the Valley of Doubt, help me to keep on going. Thank you
for not giving up on me when my faith is shaky and my heart confused.
Thank you for holding on to me when I feel like I’m losing my grip on