“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But 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.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”’ – John 20:24-29.
Most doubt is healthy. If we have doubts in a specific area, it generally causes us to work harder in that area. For example, an athlete who doubts his or her natural ability will train that much harder to improve that area. Doubt can challenge us and keep us honest. But not in every case. Sometimes doubt hurts.
Doubt can tower over us, and makes us afraid to move. Failure and rejection can feed doubt until it becomes a real presence in our lives. It makes us doubt whether we will ever find a mate, or find a job or find peace in our lives. So it is with God. Some of us have had so many doubts we relegate God to a secondary role. Even if God was once near, doubt can make God seem more than just far away. Doubt can make God seem distant and disconnected.
When we as believers struggle to believe, it’s not that we’ve misplaced hope; it’s that we’ve misplaced God, who is our hope. We’ve become comfortable living in doubt of God’s promises and in denial of His goodness.In these times, our prayer needs to be like David’s, when he was hiding for his life in a cave from King Saul:
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!” (Psalms 57:1-3)
Like He did for David, God will fulfill his own purpose in us. He will provide us reassurance in our times of doubt and wondering. Yes, doubts will surface now and again. None of us have perfect faith. All of us have room to grow. But here is the good news: God exposes our doubt for one purpose: to grow our faith. Yes it is hard and yes, it can be painful. We will have doubt, so don’t think your faith will ever be without some doubt. We have to learn to live with our doubts. But doubts don’t mean we don’t believe. They just reveal what we need to work on in our faith.
- Have you or anyone close to you ever gone through a season of doubt? What do you think were the motivating factors behind that season? How did you respond to that season? What did you learn from it?
- What is the difference between going through a season of doubt and becoming a doubter?
- Why are we sometimes hesitant to voice our doubts to God? What happens when we neglect to do so?
- How might we remind ourselves daily of the character of Christ this week? How might doing so help us fight the temptation to let our doubts define us?