“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt…you can say to the mountain, go throw yourself into the sea and it will be done’.” (Matthew 21:21)
There isn’t a Christian who doesn’t have doubts about his or her faith. Many of us are too proud to admit it, and a lot of Christians would have those of us who do, admit we occasionally succumb to doubt, that we have some spiritual problem that needs to be fixed. The next time they try to punish you for your honesty, think about the above verse and ask them when the last time they threw a mountain into the sea was.
All Christians believe in God, but we don’t always believe God. That’s why Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. (John 20:29)
God expects us to have doubts. While we may seek to live a more spirit-filled life, we are “still worldly”, as Paul observes. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ.” (I Corinthians 3:1 and 3:3) Paul knew that doubt was not a disease, but a symptom of our spiritual maturity. The immature Christian – which is just below the surface in all of us – is controlled by his own desires while the mature believer looks to see what God desires.
Have you ever heard someone refer to someone else as a “Doubting Thomas”? Did you know The original Doubting Thomas was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and he wasn’t afraid to express his doubt, even to Jesus.
Thomas was not present when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, so he was reluctant to believe their witness to Christ’s resurrection. Ten of his best friends couldn’t change his mind.
Thomas told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe it”. (John 20:25)
A week later, Jesus came to his disciples again and went straight to Thomas. “Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” (John 20:27)
I’m so glad God has such a powerful story about doubt in the Bible. While he wants us to “stop doubting and believe,” he also knows that doubt will inevitably come our way.
We can have doubts, but we don’t have to live a doubtful life. Thomas didn’t stay in his doubt. He let Jesus bring him to belief.
Take encouragement from the fact that countless other followers of Christ have struggled with doubts. And remember, doubt encourages us to rethink our beliefs, not to abandon them. It can be used to pose the question, get an answer, and push for a decision. It was never meant to be a permanent condition.
There’s a study note in my Bible which describes doubt as “one foot lifted, poised to step forward o
r back. There’s no motion until the foot comes down”.