We all experience doubt in our lives. When was the last time you doubted something…someone…or even yourself?
Doubt can creep in right after we make decisions…Did I make the right decision?
Doubt can creep in when we are trying to accomplish a job or task… Am I good enough? …or Do I have the ability to do this?
Doubt can creep in when we face struggles in life…Am I going to get through this?
We may doubt people, things, our abilities and even circumstances in our lives…
But how about God? Do you ever doubt or question God?
Doubt can creep in when our prayers aren’t answered right away…Does God hear me? …or Why hasn’t God answered me?
Doubt can creep in when we face what may appear to us as hopeless situations…Can God really help me? …Or Will God help me?
Doubt can creep in when we see bad things happen in our world…Why would God let this happen?
The word doubt is defined in the dictionary as “being uncertain about or lacking belief; distrust or questioning; lacking confidence; fear.
Even as Christians we can struggle with doubt. For some reason, we think that as Christians, we shouldn’t ever have doubt or that it is wrong or sinful to doubt…especially doubting God! We may have even learned that doubt is the opposite of faith and therefore, if we doubt…we have no faith.
And I can certainly see why we may think that way! After all the bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 as “being certain of what we cannot see”…and we just defined doubt as “being uncertain.” But check this out!
I love this statement made by Christian Theologian Paul Tillich…
“Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”
This is such a profound and eye-opening statement! It is stating that doubt is an element of…a component of…a part of…having faith!
Have you ever thought that? This is so significant because it shifts our perspective about doubt. And even biblically, we can see the truth in this statement.
God used many people in the Bible to accomplish great things…and guess what? They started out as real doubters!
There are many examples in the bible of individuals who experienced doubt…doubts in their abilities…doubts in their circumstances…and even doubts in God! Yet God not only chose to use them but accomplished great things through them…and through their doubts!
Abraham expressed doubt when he was told he would be a father in old age. (Genesis 17:17)
Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” Genesis 17:17 NLT
Sarah expressed doubt when she heard she would be a mother in old age. (Genesis 18:12)
So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master–my husband–is also so old?” Genesis 18:12 NLT
Moses expressed doubt when he was told to return to Egypt to lead the people. (Exodus 3:10-15)
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:10 NIV
Gideon expressed doubt when told he would be a judge and a leader. (Judges 6:14-23)
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” Judges 6:15 NLT
Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the LORD speaking to me. Judges 6:17 NLT
Job expressed doubt when he questioned God’s justice. (Job 7:11-21)
If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.” Job 7:20-21 NIV
Zechariah expressed doubt when told he would be a father in old age. (Luke 1:18)
Zachariah said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” Luke 1:18 NASB
Peter expressed doubt when he questioned the Lord’s reliability and power to sustain him from drowning. (Matthew 14:30-31)
But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:30-31 NLT
Thomas…and how could we forget Thomas! …The one even referred to as “Doubting” Thomas! He expressed doubt when told Jesus has risen from the dead. (John 20:24, 25)
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he [Thomas] 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.” John 20:24 NIV
All these individuals clearly expressed doubt…whether it was doubt in their abilities…doubt in their circumstances…or doubt in God and His promises. So what was God’s response to them?
God showed patience! God showed love and compassion! God showed faithfulness! And God used each of these doubters to accomplish great things…and used their doubt to grow their faith!
Abraham and Sarah became the father and mother of many nations and were blessed with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and even though he didn’t actually enter the Promised Land himself…the Israelites eventually did!
Gideon conquered a powerful army of several hundred thousand Midianites…with only 300 men!
Job was blessed by God in the latter part of his life by having his fortunes restored and receiving double portion.
Zechariah became the father of John the Baptist…who baptized many including Jesus!
Peter was one of the 3 closest disciples of Jesus and considered a model for Christians to follow. Jesus also called Peter his “rock” upon which the future church would be built.
Thomas is known to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India. Thomas was also martyred for his faith clearly demonstrating his devotion to Jesus.
Clearly we can see how God used these doubters to accomplish great things…And in their doubts…through their doubts…These doubters became doers!
Their doubts…as an element of their faith…moved them to greater faith!
Honest doubt is not a bad starting point as long as we don’t stay there!
And trust is the bridge we must cross from being a doubter to a doer.
What doubts are holding you back today? What doubts are keeping you from doing what God is calling you to do today? How does doubt play a part in your willingness to trust God?
Doubt makes us realize that we need to depend upon God…We need to trust God.
So we come back to the question…Why is doubt an element of faith? Because it propels us to grow in our faith! Doubt moves us to trust Him more!
Trust is the bridge from being a doubter to being a doer!
So how can we cross this bridge from being a doubter to a doer?
We must TRUST…
…In His sovereignty (Deuteronomy 4:39, Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 104)
…In His love for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:37-39)
…In His plans for our life (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 118:8)
…In His justice (Deuteronomy 32:4, Zephaniah 3:5, Revelation 15:13)
…In His faithfulness (1Corinthians 1:9, 2Thessalonians 3:3, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 119:90)
And this trust can only come from a relationship with God…a relationship that is purposeful in getting to know Him better…a relationship that pushes us to depend on Him and seek His will for our lives…a relationship that involves us spending time with Him praying and studying His Word.
One of the greatest things about our God is that He can and will still use us even in the midst of our doubts just as He did with these many individuals in the Bible.
Our doubts do not limit God from accomplishing His purposes. And instead God uses our doubts to help us grow in our faith! Remember this perspective…doubt is an element of faith.
Let doubt in your life help you move from a doubter to a doer…to accomplish and become all that God has planned for you…and consequently grow in your faith and trust in Him!
- When was the last time you doubted something…someone…or even yourself?
- Do you ever doubt or question God?
- What doubts are holding you back from doing what God is calling you to do today?
- How does doubt play a part in your willingness to trust God?
- Recognize that it’s ok to have doubts…but we can’t stay there!
- Begin to address the reason for your doubts…especially if it’s doubting God.
- Trust is the bridge that you must cross. Begin building your trust in God by strengthening your relationship with Him…praying and spending time studying His word.
- If you doubt God, draw closer to Him and depend on Him. Find scriptures that will speak to your specific doubts and pray that the Lord helps you move through your doubt and do the things He is calling you to do and be.