Dealing with Doubt

(modified from the book "Slaying the Giants in your Life" chapter 9 by David Jeremiah 2001 by David Jeremiah)

Introduction

All of us at time have various question and doubts. Why am I here? What is the significance of life? What would have happened if I had chosen the other road - of marriage, of career, of faith? when we don't have the answers we suffer with doubt. As we consider this topic, we will find that doubt is not the opposite of faith, but an opportunity of faith, the growing pains of an eager, seeking soul. We could say that doubt asks questions; unbelief refuses to hear answers. Let us consider this topic as we study the Bible in this study.

Bible  Study of God's Word

As you go through this lesson, read the verses in the Bible to help you find the answers. Try reading the verses first in a Bible in your own language (Chinese) and then in an English version.

Note: The Bible verse references below are linked to an English version of the Bible. If you would like to follow the Bible verse link, it would be good to "right click" on the Bible verse link and choose to open in new window  resized the window so that you can quickly go back and forth from this page to the verses. Try to write down your answers to these questions.

Example of Doubt

Let us consider John the Baptist. Jesus described him as no one greater than him (Matthew 11:11) He is described as the promised prophet of God who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 40:3; John 1:19-23; 29-30).

  1. Read Matthew 11:2-6.  What was John's situation when he sent some of his followers to Jesus (see also Matthew 14:3-4)? What does his question say about his faith at this time? Does this surprise you considering his previous announcement about Jesus? why do you think John had his doubts about Jesus now? How did Jesus answer his doubts?

    Answer: It had been a short time since God had revealed to John who Jesus was that he was the one promised in prophetic verses in the Old Testament, and John had proclaim to the crowd that Jesus was the lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:19-23; 29-30). He had heard the the voice of God affirming Jesus as the Christ. but now, away from the crowds, within the darkness of a prison cell, nothing seemed the same. He could not help asking the question through his disciples "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"  (Note: to learn why John the Baptist was in prison see Matthew 14:3-4). Jesus answered by encouraging John to check out the evidence, the His miraculous powers.

     

  2. What can we learn from this for our own doubts?

    Answer: We can learn from this that all of us at times of trials or suffering may start to doubt the reality and truth of the claims of God in the Bible. To doubt is not unusual for a believer. It is not a sin if we do not let our doubts prevent us from working through our doubts and seeking the answers.

 

Dealing with our Doubts

To gain lesson on dealing with our doubts we have an example in the person of one of Jesus' 12 disciples. His name is Thomas, more commonly called Doubting Thomas. Let us learn from his example. For background read John 19:17-20:24. In these verses we are dealing with two critical questions that many people have problems understanding or have doubts about. These are that Jesus is the son of God and the resurrection of Jesus, that He came alive again after being dead and buried.

Now consider more carefully John 20:24-31 and consider the following questions.

  1. What important event had Thomas missed (John 20:24-25)?

    Answer: It was Sunday night the first day of the week. The disciples of Jesus were gathered together in a locked room because of their fears. Earlier that day there had been some reports by some of Jesus' followers that He had appeared to them alive again. As they were discussing this, Jesus suddenly appeared to all of them in the room, all but Thomas as he was not with them.  Thomas, because he was not with the other disciples had missed Jesus' resurrection appearance.

     

  2. How did Thomas respond to the announcement of the others to seeing the resurrected Jesus (v. 25)?

    Answer: Thomas was a skeptic, a doubter. He would not believe until he had seen for himself the nail holes in Jesus hands and feet.

     

  3. What two things have we learned from Thomas' example that can help us with our doubts?

    Answer:

    1. Doubt develops in Isolation - v. 24

    When we live in isolation from  others we miss out on the encouragement available to us by being with other believers. We miss out in seeing God at work among His people. Like John the Baptist in his dark prison cell alone, our doubts can grow. Darkness feeds doubt; daylight has a way of dispelling the worst of it.

    1. Doubt Demands Evidence - v. 25

      When we find ourselves doubting the reality of our faith then ask questions, evidence for your faith. We do not need to fear that the evidence will destroy our faith completely.  As we will see, Jesus met Thomas at the point of his questions. Ask God with an honest heart, and He will always answer you.

      Note: If you have doubts about the resurrection of Jesus see Did Christ Really Rise From The Dead? (Acrobat reader required for PDF file)

  4. What happened a week later (v. 26)? Despite Thomas' disagreement with the other disciples, what does his presents in the room this time tell us about Thomas? What was the result?

    Answer:

    1. Doubt Draws us Back to Christ - v. 26

     It is significant that Thomas, despite his reservations, has remained with them. Here again is the difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, "I'll stay and investigate." Thomas stays to ask the questions and therefore receives the answers.

     

  5. What was the result of Thomas' doubting questions (v. 27)?

    Answer:

    1.  Doubt Deepens our Faith - v. 27

    Jesus now allows Thomas the special opportunity to acutely touch and feel the nail scarred hands of Jesus' and His resurrected body. He had a solid experience to strength his faith. As a result of his search for answers to his doubts, Christ Jesus gave him a deeper understand of the reality of his faith. God is big enough to handle the questions that trouble you. Just be honest abut your doubts. Assurance is the reward of the persistent seeker. (See also Luke 24:38-40).

    Summary - The questions are the beginning of the journey, but the answer comes finally in  experience, in reaching out to touch and to feel and in being ourselves touched by the power of the nail-scarred hands.

     

  6. Thomas' answered questions of doubt lead him to a powerful declaration. What was it (v. 28)?

    Answer:

    1. Doubt Defines our Faith - v. 28

    Thomas is now able with confidence to announce about Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" O the power of that statement. The emotions that must have been involved. It is true Jesus is My Lord and My God! Thomas' doubts, and questions lead him to a very personal and powerful experience of God.  The most powerful courtroom testimony is that of a hostile witness. Thomas the skeptic replaces his questions with an exclamation of personal faith.

Conclusion: How to deal with your doubts

  1. Don't be afraid to admit your personal doubts
  2. Describe your doubts clearly so you can deal with them
  3. Acknowledge your doubts in prayer (See Habakkuk 1:2-4)
  4. Examine the evidence carefully

    In the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzche proclaimed, "God is dead." Two hundred years later, God proclaims that Friedrich Nietzche  is dead. You can't find flaws in the Word of God; it finds flaws in you.

    A lawyer by the name of Frank Morison set out to destroy the crazy idea of Jesus' resurrection once and for all. He examined the historical evidence with all his legal logic and evidential expertise. Morison sifted through every possibility that might account for the disappearance of Jesus' body and was left with only the bible's explanation.  In the end, he wrote a book called Who Moved the Stone? the only thing it destroyed was his skepticism. Like Thomas the doubter, Morison brought honest questions and a willingness to investigate. And God move the stone that was in Morison's heart.

     

  5. Accept the Limitations Humbly
  1. Accept your own limitations - we are finite human beings with limits to our ability to understand fully the infinite God who made us (Isaiah 55:8-9).

     

  2. Accept the Bible's limitations  - God's Word has every truth we need for our lives in this world, but it does not deal with every question we may have?

     

  3. Adjust to the complexity of the universe - the more we know about the complexity of the universe God has created the more we realize that our minds are too small to understand the wonder of it all (Romans 11:33-36).