Dealing With Doubt

     I read recently that the fastest growing “religious” group in America are the “nones;” those who would claim no faith (The Rise of the Nones, James Emery White, 7).  Many of these once considered themselves Christians.  We know that doubt is often destructive to faith.  Yet most of us have some doubts, right?  We read the book of Acts and it seems like they saw constant miracles; but that has not been our experience.  Haven’t most of us prayed for someone’s healing and they died anyway?  I think the story of “doubting Thomas” can be helpful.
      When the apostle Thomas missed an initial appearance of the Risen Christ he refused to believe his fellow apostles. He wanted to see Jesus for himself and even touch the scars to be convinced.  Jesus appeared to Thomas and offered him the proof he sought (John 20:24-31).  Thomas recommitted to Jesus and, according to tradition, died as a martyr many years later in India.  When we read this story, I believe we are given several keys to dealing with doubt. 
      One, in this interaction; Jesus invites Thomas to touch his scars.  In essence, he says, examine the evidence.  When people have intellectual doubts, I encourage them to dig in.  There are insightful books that give solid answers to honest questions.  The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is one great example.  Lee was an investigative reporter whose wife became a Christian and he set out to disprove her faith.  After a lengthy investigation, Strobel became convinced of the resurrection of Jesus.  He became a Christian. 
      Second, challenge our expectations.  For example, I mentioned the many miracles in the book of Acts. However, remember that particular book is a highlight reel of the church’s first 30 years.  A highlight reel does not mean a constant stream of stunning, dramatic God moments for every believer.  Even the Apostle Paul tells Timothy to take some wine for his stomach’s sake and elsewhere leaves a friend sick (2 Timothy 4:20).  God is not a vending machine full of miracles.  He is sovereign, He intervenes, sometimes miraculously when it is best for the kingdom.   
     Third, embrace mystery.  Questions are often part of our growth.  Just as when my children were small they did not understand all my decisions, we will not understand all God’s decisions. The gap between my children and myself is smaller than my intellect and that of the All-knowing God of the Bible.  For example, many love the verse “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).  I see it laminated and posted.  I have never seen the verse before it posted anywhere about the fact that Israel’s exile would last 70 years!  Hardship and heartbreak are often part of God’s plan for your life.  Sometimes he delivers us slowly.  It has been said, “we are a microwave people who serve a crock pot God.”  His timeline is very different than ours.
       In conclusion, Jude tells us “be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22).  That instruction includes your doubts.  I was once told to remember that when I do not understand the sovereignty of God, trust the heart of God as revealed by the cross of Christ.  Faith is a choice.  CHOOSE FAITH!  I hope, like Thomas, we will cry out to Jesus “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).  
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church