What To Do When You Are Doubting
Have you ever doubted that God was hearing your prayers? Have you ever doubted your salvation? Have you ever doubted God’s love? Have you ever doubted that Jesus is really preparing a home for you in Heaven?
Jesus does not want you to live in two minds (believing and not believing). Jesus was so put out by the doubt that tended to fill the minds and hearts of His disciples that in Matthew 17:17 he says, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?” Even the disciples were at times filled with doubts that pushed aside faith. After Christ had been beaten, crucified, pierced through with a spear, after he had been entombed and resurrected in the 40 days that he showed himself alive in many infallible truths some of his disciples still doubted. Matthew 28:16-17 says, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”
Even as they worshiped the resurrected Lord there were some who doubted. I learn a lot from that. I learn that there are some reading this post who are in the act of worshiping the Lord while simultaneously living with more than a few doubts. Many Christians struggle with doubt. Even strong believers can struggle with doubt at different times in their lives. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrims Progress, who could bring forth with his imagination the things unseen and spiritual, as if he could see them with his eyes, hear them with his ears, and touch them with his hands, had many conflicts with doubt. “Of all temptations I ever met with in my life,” he says, “to questions the being of God and the truth of His Gospel is the worst, and worst to be borne. When this temptation comes it takes my girdle from me, and removes the foundation from under me.”
Jesus does not want you to live in two minds (believing and not believing). Doubt will diminish your spiritual power. Matthew 21:21 says, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” Doubt will also attack your spiritual stability. Luke 12:29 says, “And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried [or “of a doubtful mind”].
So, what do you do when you are doubting?
When you are doubting, speak up!
In Matthew 11 we read that John the Baptist is in prison. He is asking a question that is most than remarkable and almost appalling. The herald of the King, that has had such enormous success in preaching ministry, is asking in verse 3, “Are you the one that is come or shall we look for another?” It is mind boggling John would ask that question. Some are so blown away by that question that they think John was not asking this question for his own benefit but for the benefit of his disciples. I wish I could accept that interpretation. My respect for John the Baptist comes from what Jesus has said in verse 11 of this same text (“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a great than John the Baptist”). But I believe that John the Baptist is dealing with these doubts. Verse 4 tells us that Jesus said, “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see.” Yes, it is John the Baptist who is in prison, and while it was John’s disciples who brought the question, the answer is addressed to John. Even the greatest of the Old Testament prophets struggled with the common issue of doubt.
In the middle of all these doubts John found his voice. He wanted to know if Jesus was worth following and He was willing to ask about it. John’s message was obvious - when in doubt you must talk! When John doubt he was willing to say something about it, are you?
Many believers today also doubt certain truths about God because of incomplete information, because they have inadequate knowledge of understanding of God’s Word. Sadly, there are many within the church who choose to cover, ignore or hide their doubts. This ought not to be the case! If you are doubting speak up! Talk to someone and most importantly talk to the Lord! Don’t ignore your doubts.
When you are doubting, listen up!
“Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see” (Matthew 11:4). The remedy for doubt has to do with repetition. Repetition is not only the key to learning it is the key to a strong faith. Jesus wants John to be reminded again of what the Messiah had come to earth to do. Jesus did not directly answer John’s questions, but he invited the messengers to tell John what was happening.
From studying the brain, scientists have found that repeated thoughts actually create physical grooves in the brain. When we practice a skill, learn a sport or study facts, a little trench is carved into our brain tissue. This is another reason why it is hard to break a habit. A habit is truly physical. One must make a new brain groove to break a habit. Repeated thoughts become not just brain grooves, but deeds and repeated deeds become concrete routines.
So it is within the children of God. Repetition of God’s truths serve as the balm to cure to the doubtful. Whether we use a string on a finger, a post-it note on the mirror, or an auto-reminder on our smartphones, we all need prompts for what we’d otherwise forget. You need that repetition of what God is doing so you can hold it alongside God’s Word. Only then can doubt be defeated. Listen up! “Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God.” Paul is going to write to the Philippians and say, “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is necessary” (3:1).We need to hear over and over what God has done. Just as the song writer said, “Tell me the old, old story … write on my heart every word.” When I am doubting my salvation what a blessing it is to listen up and hear the Word of the Lord in John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” What a blessing at times of insecurity about our salvation to run to the word and begin to erase doubt by that repetition of that which we know.
When you are doubting, look up!
Doubts pull our gaze off Christ. Faith points our gaze back to Christ. In Matthew 11:5-6 Jesus tells John’s disciples to show him again what He has done. .” The concluding miracle is perhaps most noteworthy: “the dead are raised.” John the Baptist is reminded, as we are today, that even death was subject to Jesus. Isaiah 35:5-6 prophesied of this Christ. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.”
So who is this Jesus? For 2,000 years people have been asking this question. Jesus, Himself, posed it to His followers: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Some say He is no more than a historical figure, a man, a carpenter from Nazareth. Other say he was a philosopher or a moralist or a religious revolutionary. Some even say that Jesus was a myth. But what does the Bible say?
Jesus is …
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