Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
It’s confession time: I have doubts. There, I said it. Some are little doubts & others are huge. Some are theological, some philosophical; some are particular to me and others, I’m sure are shared by other people. But I’m pretty sure that Jesus is OK with my doubts, and that I’m in good company. Let me tell you why…
The disciples Jesus selected were a really dodgy bunch, and so inconsistent: full of great faith at times, and at other times full of doubts – and Jesus regularly called them on it: ‘O you of little faith’. He let them know that having ‘little faith’ (doubting) wasn’t a great thing – but it wasn’t the end of the world either.
When Jesus was raised from death He appeared to some of His disciples, but Thomas wasn’t with them. The disciples told him that they’d seen Jesus, but he didn’t believe them – he doubted their testimony. He replied,
“First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won’t believe unless I do this!” – John 20:25 CEV
It’s pretty clear that Thomas doubted that Jesus was alive – to him it was inconceivable. But Thomas knew exactly what it would take to convince him. A week later, the disciples are together again, along with Thomas, and they’re in a locked room. Suddenly Jesus appears & greets everyone and says to Thomas:
“Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!” – John 20:27 CEV
He knew that Thomas doubted, and He knew exactly what it would take to convince him. Jesus didn’t ignore Thomas’ doubt, and He didn’t condemn him for it; instead He addressed it. Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
In Mark 9, Jesus is presented with a boy who is possessed by an evil spirit. The disciples were unable to heal him due to their lack of faith (see how exasperated Jesus is with them in v19). The boy’s father demonstrates his doubts by saying to Jesus ‘please help us if you can’. Jesus calls him on it – ‘why do you say “if you can”?’ anything is possible for someone who has faith.‘ The father immediately shouts back ‘I do have faith – please help me to have even more!’ Jesus heals the boy, even though his father (and the disciples) doubted. Even doubt is not a barrier to something amazing happening.
Faith is a gift, and Romans 12:3 makes it clear that God gives different amounts of faith to His people and at different times:
‘Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you.’ – Romans 12:3 CEV
It isn’t wrong to doubt – it’s actually healthy. Be like the father in Mark 9 and even when you’re doubting, focus on the little faith you have and ask God to increase it: ‘I do have faith – please help me to have even more’. On that occasion the man’s faith was increased by God doing something amazing. There’s no reason to believe He’ll do any less when you ask Him.
– if faith is a gift from God, what might stop me from receiving it?
Father God, help me to honestly wrestle with my doubts;
You are big enough to stand against them.
I pray that you will increase my faith & help me grow nearer to you.
As my faith increases, Lord, would you increase my confidence in you.