As a Christian, How Do I Deal with My Doubts?
- Greg Laurie Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship
- 2019 16 Dec
Have you ever had doubts about your faith? Have you ever wondered if it is really all true? If so, don’t be too hard on yourself. Some Christians are reluctant to admit that they have any questions at all.
I think that we sometimes have the idea that questioning God is an act of spiritual treason or betrayal. We may feel that to have any skepticism or doubt is an unpardonable sin. But that is not the case.
It was Oswald Chambers who once said, “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.” It has also been said, “Skepticism is the first step toward truth.”
Doubt Leaves Room for Belief
You see, God loves skeptics. It is okay to have doubts and questions. But there is a difference between doubt/skepticism and outright unbelief.
Doubt says, “I can’t believe.” Unbelief says, “I won’t believe.”
Skepticism is looking for light. Unbelief is content with darkness.
Doubt is honesty. Unbelief is stubbornness.
A skeptic is open to truth. An unbeliever is not.
You see, an unbeliever has no intention of changing or believing. They will offer the well-worn excuses, but the fact of the matter is, even when confronted with the evidence to refute their nonbelief, they will reject it out of hand because they don’t want to believe.
On the other hand, an honest skeptic, when presented with the facts, will change. That is because they have truthful and heartfelt questions about God and His Word, and they’re looking to know the answers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Even the Greats Get Doubts
Everyone has moments of doubt. Even John the Baptist—the cousin of Jesus, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, and the direct forerunner of the Messiah—dealt with doubt.
John had dedicated his life and ministry to preparing the way for the Lord by preaching repentance and baptizing people. Then one day when He saw Jesus, he cried out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel” (John 1:29-31). It was a bold, confident, Spirit-prompted declaration.
But after he had been arrested and imprisoned—when things weren’t going as John had imagined—he sent word to Jesus, asking, “Are you really the Messiah we’ve been waiting for, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3 NLT)
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Do You Relate to John’s Doubt?
Perhaps your life and circumstances haven’t been what you envisioned, and you think to yourself, Is Jesus really who I thought He was? Are His promises true? Have I been duped into believing a lie?
Jesus answered, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4-5)
Those assuring words remind me of a statement that my friend Pastor Chuck Smith made to me shortly after my son Christopher died. He told me, “Never trade what you don’t know for what you do know." Those are good words of advice for anyone who doubts. Hold fast to what you are sure of.
I would encourage you to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.
From Doubting Thomas to Believing Thomas
Thomas’s doubt is so renowned, history has strapped him with the moniker “Doubting Thomas.” After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He appeared to the disciples, but Thomas was not among them. When they told Thomas they has seen the Lord, 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)
Now, we can criticize Thomas for saying he wanted to see the nail prints, but would we have been any different? He was not going to believe based on what others told him he should believe. He simply wanted to know for himself. And there is nothing wrong with that.
How easily our Lord could have ignored Thomas altogether, seeing he wasn’t present with the other disciples. Jesus could have said, “You snooze, you lose, Thomas. You should have been there.”
No. The Lord instead condescends to the request of Thomas and even makes another personal appearance—just for him, it seems.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Sergey Turkin
God Will Reveal Himself
I bring this up to point out that God will more than meet you halfway. When I came to Christ as a teenager, I said, “Lord, You are going to have to make Yourself real to me. I am having a hard time with this. I don’t believe this just because these Christians say it is true. If You are there, You are going to have to show me You are real. And You are going to have to change my life.”
That was not a defiant challenge; it was an honest plea. It was a cry for help from a cynical, skeptical young boy. And you know what? God answered my prayer and He made Himself real to me.
Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails….” He didn’t ask for anything more than what the others had seen. He didn’t ask for a special revelation. He simply asked for the same proof.
You know, sometimes we are a little concerned as Christian parents when our kids start asking questions. When they ask, “Mom, how do you know the Bible is the Word of God?” or “Hey Dad, are you sure evolution isn’t true?” for some reason, we panic. “Oh no! We are failing as Christian parents!”
Not at all. Maybe you are doing a really good job because your kid is actually thinking about the hard things. As parents, you need to dig into the Word of God with your kids and help them internalize your faith. They need to ‘get it’ for themselves.
So God appears to Thomas and even offers for Thomas to touch His wounds. Thomas doesn’t need any more proof. “My Lord and my God!” he says. Up to this point perhaps Thomas admired Jesus as a tremendous role model, a hero, a messenger of God even. But now Thomas realizes He is much more than that. He says, “My Lord and my God!”
It is not enough to just say that Jesus is the Lord or Jesus is the God. Even the demons believe such truths. No, there has to come a moment when you say, “My Lord and my God.” Have you done that?
The Blessing in Belief
The Lord said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
One of the secrets to living as a Christian is to walk by faith and not by feeling. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. That is you and I. We have chosen to believe. And the Bible says there is coming a day when every eye will see and when every knee will bow. Until that day we are to simply believe.
Does Believing Come Hard for You?
There is a story in the Bible of a man who said, “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.” I love that. It is so honest. And God will respond to a prayer like that.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. John the Baptist had his questions. Thomas had his skepticism. You may have your doubts as well. But as Chuck Swindoll once said, “It is the right of every believer to go through halls of doubt on their way to rooms of truth.”
So be honest with the Lord. Bring Him your doubts and your questions. He will meet you in your skepticism and reveal Himself to you.
Pastor Greg Laurie serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, which has campuses in Southern California and Hawaii. He is the author of more than 70 books, hosts the nationally syndicated radio broadcast A New Beginning, and is the founder of Harvest Crusades, large-scale evangelistic events attended by millions of individuals worldwide. Learn more at Harvest.org.
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Greg Laurie is the pastor and founder of the Harvest churches in California and Hawaii and of Harvest Crusades. He is an evangelist, best-selling author and movie producer. His newest book Lennon, Dylan, Alice & Jesus released on May 17, 2022.