When Doubt Reigns…
Posted on May 26, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
There are times when I sit here in my chair by the window, wondering why? Often times, the wave of doubt comes right after praying, and mostly when I realize my heart hurts, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The first wave comes with a hushed whisper, ‘You are all alone…’ then his companions join in with, ‘no one cares…’ and ‘it doesn’t change anything!’ Lingering there in the silence is the reminder of how long I have waited for some answers that seem to never arrive. Usually, I can fight these off with the truth, but when the pain deepens, I lay victim to its sting.
In the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion, His disciples were hiding behind locked doors for fear of being killed as well. The women had reported that Jesus was not in the tomb, but even that didn’t relieve their distress. It was at this point, Jesus entered and stood among them and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were thrilled. But Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.” But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.” Honestly, there isn’t one among us who wouldn’t have reacted just the same while living in those turbulent times.
Eight days later, the disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was there when Jesus came through the doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then He focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” Thomas said, “My Master! My God!” Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:19-21, 24-29 MSG)
I don’t think Jesus was criticizing Thomas for his doubts and wanting evidence. Remember how He worked to restore Peter’s faith, I believe that is His purpose here too. We need to think back to when Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was dead, and He was going to Bethany. Even though the religious leaders intended to kill Him, He was determined to do His Father’s will. Here, it was Thomas who said to the others, “Come along. We might as well die with him.” (John 11:16) That doesn’t sound like a faithless skeptic, sounds more like someone who’s struggling with this ‘new and living way.’
I can’t imagine all that the disciples were struggling with… Their friend and mentor was dead and buried. There were threats to kill them, as well. Moreover, they were grappling with how to justify what Jesus said with the reality of their circumstances. Their position was not for the milk toast believer. You couldn’t just post some feel-good religious memes here and expect others to pat you on the back for your spirituality. This was life and death for even being associated with the Galilean carpenter’s kid.
Christianity is not some feeble effort on our part to live a shabby imitation of Jesus Christ. It is a life of faith that is worked out anew in difficulties and among struggles with doubt every day. It’s our choice to ‘crucify with Christ’ our doubts, wants, and desires… and by faith, humbly allowing Jesus to live His life again through us, right where we are, in our circumstances. We have a wholly available and thoroughly able High Priest in control over the ‘House of God’, whose residence we are. (Heb 10:19-22)
Jeremiah struggled with the depths of pain in which God had placed Him. He lamented, “I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger. He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.”
(Lamentations 3:1-3 NLT) Amid his grief, Jeremiah had available the same thing we have to sustain us through the deepest difficulty, God’s Word. God told Jeremiah upfront, and before anything happened, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” And I am telling you now, “today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. They will fight you, but they will fail. I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:5, 18-19 NLT)
God told us the same thing when through Jesus, He warned those who decide to walk by faith, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A servant is not greater than the Master.’ Since they persecuted Me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to Me, they would listen to you. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated Me without cause.'” (John 15:18, 20, 25 NLT) Through Paul, God encourages us by declaring, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” And, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8: 31-39)
Some days are harder than others, even at times feeling alone in a crowded room. There are times when I dislike even my chair and all that it symbolizes, put through it all, there remains one thing that is always true… ‘Jesus loves me, this I know.. for God’s Word, it tells me so.’
From my chair by the window, I see the sunrise each morning, and I am moved by the growing light to remember Jeremiah’s lament, “My soul continually remembers my difficulty and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.'” (Lamentations 3:20-23 ESV)
We all doubt, We sin and do the unthinkable. And like Thomas, the other disciples, David, Daniel, Paul, or Jeremiah, we struggle in difficulties. But, God’s grace lavishes us with strength, courage, endurance, patience, and forgiveness. So, no matter how far you’ve strayed, how corrupt you’ve been, who you’ve hurt, or how deep your doubt… God’s grace and forgiveness are as close as His promises. We tap into His joy with a simple prayer… ‘I choose You, Lord, for great is Your faithfulness.’
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.” – A.W. Tozer
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 10:32-33
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.