Facing Your Doubts.
I have missed some exciting moments in my life.
I have missed opportunities to have some fun adventures, meet interesting people, and even see John Stamos (Uncle Jesse himself!) — all because I wasn’t in the right place at the right time. But all of my missed connections pale in comparison to what the disciple Thomas missed in John 20.
In verse 19, Jesus appeared to all of the disciples for the first time after his resurrection. Well, to almost all of the disciples; poor Thomas wasn’t there. So in verse 25, they fill him in with the exclamation “We’ve seen the Lord!”
Thomas’ response to this great news was disbelief.
He told them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Because of that response, Thomas’ name has become synonymous with doubt. His name is now a synonym for skeptical people:
With the crystal-clear vision of hindsight, we look at Thomas’ response and wag our finger at him. We turn our nose up at his doubt. We think “How could he not believe them? How could Thomas not believe that Jesus was alive? After all, Jesus had told them this would happen! How could Thomas have doubted Jesus’ own words?”
Let me be very transparent. As I look at this resurrection story, I identify most with Thomas.
When I ask Thomas, “How could you have doubted that Jesus was alive? Don’t you believe Jesus told you the truth?”, those questions boomerang right back into my own heart and begin to press into my own doubts.
“When you got that medical bill, how could you have doubted Jesus’ power and promise to provide? When you were stressed out at work and needed a solution, why did you doubt the infinite creative power of a God who makes something out of nothing?”
I am not above Thomas. I am Thomas.
While we live in a broken world, with broken hearts, minds, and affections. We are all vulnerable to doubt from time to time. Doubt often strikes without warning, creeping into our minds and out of our mouths — just like it struck Thomas. I don’t agree with people who say that “doubt is a choice.” I never intend to doubt; doubt just shows up.
Since we see in the story of Thomas that doubt is something even those closest to Jesus can experience, we must answer this question: What should we do when we doubt? There are two steps.
1. Choose faith.
While I don’t believe doubt is a choice, I do believe that we choose what to do with this unwelcome visitor.
We can choose to let doubt walk us away from the Father by choosing to follow the impulse that our deepest joy and trust is found elsewhere.
Or, we can choose faith and walk our doubt to the Father. And when we do, Hebrews 4:16 tells us we will find “mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
After all, this was Jesus’ loving response Thomas in John 20:27, ‘Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.”’
Jesus patiently met Thomas in his doubt and instructed him to believe.
Jesus’ response leads me to ask the question: Why is Jesus so patient with our doubt?
The answer is that we are his children (1 John 3:1). His patience is not just a reflection of his perfect character, but also of his perfect paternal love for us.
Even when my own children disappoint or frustrate me, there is a patience and understanding that I extend to them that I don’t extend to others simply because they are my children, and I love them dearly. If I love my children that way, how much more does our Heavenly Father love us and extend perfect patience toward us? (Matthew 7:11)
Our kind and patient Father, full of love toward us is waiting with mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
So choose faith and run to the Father!
Run to where you already know He has met with you before.
Run to His Church.
Run to His Word and let it invade your heart’s affection and capture your mind’s attention.
Run to Him in prayer and let the tenderness of his presence bring you comfort and peace.
2. Ask for more faith.
In Mark 9, a desperate father looking for healing for his son brings Jesus a doubt-laden request: “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus’ response pointed this man to faith. “ ‘If you can?’ ” He says. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.” The father’s response is one I believe we need to emulate in moments of doubt. He says, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
The father asks Jesus for help with his doubt! And what happens next? Jesus healed his son. The father requested faith to help eradicate his doubt, and Jesus gave it to him through the healing of his son.
I wonder how many times our Father is holding faith-bolstering confidence in his hand for us and, unlike this father, we have just not asked for it. Jesus said in Matthew 7:8 “Everyone who asks receives.” Let’s start asking.
Be honest about your doubt, and ask the Father to help you.
Ask Him for the faith to not doubt his care when you are suffering.
Ask Him for the faith to trust his strength when you are scared.
Ask Him for the faith to not doubt His plans when the days are darkest.
Thomas doubted, and Jesus loved him through it.
You may be doubting, but Jesus will love you through it too.
This article was written by Pastor Grant Nixon of Grace Winter Garden and appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of Grace Magazine.