“Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” – Matthew 11:3.
Doubt almost seems like a bad word in Christian circles. All too often it is equated with falling away — with losing your faith. We fight against doubt and we encourage those who question to just have faith. The Bible is littered with doubters.
Of course, the number one suspect is Thomas. But it’s not just Thomas who doubted. A whole lot of people did. Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, and the list goes on. They all were doubters. Fortunately, God didn’t ask people to pretend and try to manufacture certainty. He accepted them where they were and asked them to be faithful and step forward through the doubt.
Take John the Baptist. John was in jail. Roman authority was in place and political and religious corruption still ruled. In short, everything seemed like it was the same as it had been for generations. John simply didn’t understand everything that was happening (or not happening) around him, so he sends these disciples with this question in Matthew 11:3. “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” That question sprung from some inner doubt. They came from a man who had personally baptized the Son of God and heard the audible voice of God the Father. There was ample evidence in John the Baptist’s life to eliminate doubt. And yet….as John the Baptist sat rotting in a prison cell, isolated with nothing but his own thoughts—he began to doubt.
And the reality is, many of our questions and doubts often spring from these same things. It’s often in the midst of challenging and difficult circumstances when faith is the hardest to come by. Especially when we have been walking with the Lord, faithfully serving and worshiping Him, and tragedy hits.
Jesus didn’t send John’s disciples back with a reprimand for doubting. He didn’t scold John for not having enough faith. Instead, He said, “Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4-5).
Then Jesus says in verse 6, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me” or as another translation says, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (NIV). Jesus is referring to someone who trusts in Him. Amidst difficult situations and unmet expectations, even when it’s not easy and seems contrary to reason and everything you think about the way things should be, Jesus says to trust in Him. Trust in Him, and you will be blessed—that’s a promise. It is clear that God deals tenderly with honest doubters and will meet Him where they are at.
- Do you think it is wrong to have doubts about the Christian faith? Is it wrong to doubt God? Why or why not?
- In general, do you find yourself mostly doubting others or mostly believing others? Why?
- How could doubting something or someone be helpful to you? And at what point could it become unhealthy or even harmful?