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We all have doubts about our faith. Its how we handle them that determines whether our doubts weaken or strengthen us.
Lets look at some men of great faith in the Bible who had doubts and see how they handled them.
John the Baptist
We know John the Baptist well. He paved the path for Jesus, baptizing in the wilderness. He proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah and said that he was unworthy to untie Jesus sandals. Following the baptism of Jesus, John saw and heard directly from God:
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, Â€ÂœThis is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.Â€ (Matthew 3:16-17)(See also Mark 1:9-11)
Yet John still had his doubts:
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, Â€ÂœAre you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?Â€ (Matthew 11:2-3)
John died with full faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
On his way to meet with Esau, Jacob wrestled with God.
Jacob Wrestles With God
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacobs hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, Â€ÂœLet me go, for it is daybreak.Â€
But Jacob replied, Â€ÂœI will not let you go unless you bless me.Â€
27 The man asked him, Â€ÂœWhat is your name?Â€
Â€ÂœJacob,Â€ he answered.
28 Then the man said, Â€ÂœYour name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.Â€
29 Jacob said, Â€ÂœPlease tell me your name.Â€
But he replied, Â€ÂœWhy do you ask my name?Â€ Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, Â€ÂœIt is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.Â€ (Genesis 32:22-30)
In the night, alone, Jacob had a night long fight with God. This symbolizes Jacobs doubts. And Jacob was sure, having touched God, that he would die. Instead, Jacob was blessed by God and had his name changed to Israel (which means struggles with God).
Thomas the Doubter
Poor Thomas. He is best known in history for being a doubter. He may have been the first Missourian (The Show Me State). Thomas was brazen. He challenged Jesus when he did not understand something:
Thomas said to him, Â€ÂœLord, we dont know where you are going, so how can we know the way?Â€ (John 14:5)
Thomas is probably best know for questioning the resurrection of Jesus. "I wont believe it until I see it. Show me!"
Thomas fell to his knees, his faith strengthened.
How do we face our doubts?
Our doubts can come from so many things. Lack of physical proof. Misfortunes and tragedies that befall us. "Unanswered" prayers. Pressures in an unrighteous world. Scientific findings. What do we do?
Hide from the truth. We can all easily do that. We see something "nasty" and just hide from it. We dont want to see the God of the Old Testament, so we dont read or study it. We avoid seeing what is happening in the world with things like starvation, disease, genocide or abortion. When we do such things we avoid the question of "How could God allow this to happen?" We are hiding from our doubts.
Deny, deny, deny!
Similar in many ways to hiding from our doubts, we deny those things which could raise doubt. An excellent example the "God vs. science" issue. We accept things without looking deeply into them. This is blind faith. We dont face and remove our doubts, we avoid them all together. In doing so, we dont allow God to show us the full majesty and magnificence of His creation.
When we just give up, we are defeated in our faith. Its so easy to do, give up. We live in a messed up world. We see bad things happen to good people. We all have troubles in our lives. We cant touch Jesus as Thomas did. One neednt look long or hard to find excuses to just give up on our faith.
We can face our doubts squarely
What did Thomas do? He made darned sure he was in the room when Jesus reappeared to the disciples. He faced his doubts.
Jacob limped on in his journey to meet Esau. (Remember, God touched his hip and damaged it) Jacob (Israel) knew that his struggle with God was to teach him lessons, that their wresting match was caused by his doubts. His faith was strengthened.
John the Baptist faced his death in total faith.
We can seek out what is happening in the world, to not hide from the nasty things that are out there.
We can admit rather than deny our doubts and delve into what causes them.
We can keep on keeping on in our faith.
Have you ever noticed how, when we turn our troubles and doubts over to God, He provides answers? When we face our doubts directly, He comes through?
How many times have you been troubled only to have your Bible fall open to just the right verse? How many times have your prayers been answered?
How do you handle doubts? Like so many things in our lives, it is a decision. Its up to you.
Alive in The Word
For a sequel to this see: Facing the Giant of Doubt - David Jeremiah: