What To Do About Doubt

A little more than a week has passed. You’re sitting in a stuffy room full of the men with whom you’ve spent the last three years. You are all terrified. That’s why you’re hiding with the doors locked. The Jewish leaders may be coming to arrest you and possibly execute you the way that they did your leader a little over a week ago. The others in the room claim that this man has come back to life. They claim that he appeared in their midst last week in this very same room while you were conveniently absent. You’ve already told them that you won’t believe their obviously insane claims until you can put your finger in the nail holes, and your hand in the spear wound of your now dead leader. Suddenly, he is standing in front of you, the very man you know to be dead. He looks directly at you and says, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and blieve”

The story of Doubting Thomas is a powerful one. Thomas was surrounded by people who had seen Jesus alive and still he doubted. It is very easy for us to be critical of him, but the truth of the matter is we are just like him. We are often full of doubt. Doubt about our abilities and gifts. Doubt about the intentions of others. Doubt about our faith. Doubt about the future. Doubt is a natural outgrowth of living in a fallen world. We know the truth but the serpent from way back in the Garden still whispers doubt into our ears and just like Adam and Eve, we question and doubt. The question that we find ourselves facing is what do we do about that doubt? Here are a few suggestions.

Show Mercy

We worship a God who is merciful. He has shown us an overwhelming amount of mercy through Christ’s death and resurrection and the reconciliation that flows through that. Jude 22 says, “'Be merciful to those who doubt.” We are told to be kind and merciful to one another throughout the Bible and told to do this explicitly with those who doubt, here in Jude. Our God offers us his mercy and desires us to offer it to those who are doubting. This includes offering it to ourselves when we are doubting.

Get Comfortable with Mystery

Our faith is full of sacred mystery. The Trinity is one God with three equal persons. Jesus was born to a virgin. God chose us to be his before the creation of the world but died so that everyone who believes in him will be saved. These are all complex topics to which we have incomplete answers. The truth of the matter is that we serve a God who is far greater than our minds are even close to being able to understand. He has always been and will always be. He created everything with his speech and sustains all of us with every breath we take. These types of mystery can easily introduce doubt into our lives. As we mature in Christ and spend time in his word, we become increasingly comfortable with these mysteries and begin to see them as things of beauty and not reasons for doubt. Moses knew this as he was dying and told Israel that in Deuteronomy. Deut 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." There are secrets known only to God. So, settle in because it’s gonna get mysterious!

Doubt Your Doubts

We can use historical evidence and logic to bolster our faith and cast doubt upon our doubts. Alex spoke about this when he preached on apologetics. Christ died for us. His historical existence is well established through sources outside of the Bible. His existence as a historical figure isn’t questioned in circles that are rational. We know he lived and died here on earth. The Gospels give us a record of what he taught and did while he was here on Earth. If his existence is a fact, we are left with his teachings that are recorded in the Gospels and a choice. CS Lewis outlined this choice quite well. He said,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Don’t be afraid to cast doubt upon your doubts and to examine resources that can help you do that. The book, The Case for Christ, is a great starting point.

Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing

When I was in college my roommate’s grandmother used to say, “Don’t forget. The main thing in life is to make sure you keep the main thing, the main thing.” The first time she said this I was rather confused. But I eventually realized she was pointing out that the main thing in our lives is to make sure we keep Christ at the forefront because he is, in fact, the main thing. When we encounter doubt it is vitally important to turn and chase the main thing. Pursue Christ. Seek him in the Word and through prayer. Ask him to reveal the truth to you as you seek him. If we keep him as the main thing, he will be faithful and draw you to himself.

Doubt Isn't Unbelief

When we encounter doubt, it is important to remind ourselves that doubt isn’t unbelief. If we are pursuing a relationship with Christ and seeking counsel from wise Christian brothers and sisters, we are not facing unbelief, we are facing doubt. We have not rejected our faith or walked away from the Lord. We have begin asking difficult questions that have cast a shadow across our faith. Doubting it normal. It happens to all of us eventually. Take it as a moment to dive deeper and strengthen your faith by developing a robust answer to your own doubt.

As we move beyond the celebration of Easter, let’s remember what Christ did for us on the cross and as he walked out of the tomb. The God of the universe sent his Son to die for us so that we might be reconciled to him. That is a beautiful act. We will doubt some of how it worked but at the end of the day we must return to the reality to God loved us so much he died for us. Let that settle into your heart and allow it to sustain you through seasons of doubt. I'll leave you with a song from Andrew Peterson that reminds us of what the Apostles saw and how it sustained them in the midst of their own doubt.

Josh Cervone