Summary: Doubt. It impacts all of us. Doubts are not incompatible with faith. In fact, they can add to our faith. So how do you access the power of the resurrection and overcome your doubts?
Lord Halifax, the secretary of Great Britain, once shared a railway compartment with two prim looking spinsters. A few moments before reaching his destination, the train passed through a tunnel. In the utter darkness, he noisily kissed the back of his hand several times. When the train drew into the station, he rose, lifted his hat and in a gentlemanly way said, “May I thank whichever one of you ladies I am indebted to for the charming incident while we were in the tunnel.” He then made a hasty retreat, leaving the two ladies glaring at each other. Can you imagine their conversation after he left? “I didn’t kiss him, you must have kissed him!” While the other responded, “Well, I didn’t kiss him, you must have kissed him!” The point is this: it doesn’t take much for the seeds of doubt to be planted.
Doubt. It impacts all of us. Duke Professor and author Gary Habermaus writes, “Doubt…is certainly one of the most frequent and painful problems which plague Christians.” Leon McKenzie writes: "We come into the world with question marks in our heads . . . . (which) are never fully erased." We are not alone. Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection. Noah doubted he could build a boat. Moses doubted he could take on Pharaoh and free his people. Gideon doubted God’s call on his life and tested God not once but twice! Sarah doubted she could have children. And the list goes on and on.
There are four main causes of doubt. First is our circumstances. We see this in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Everything that took place on resurrection morning shows that Jesus’ followers did not expect him to be resurrected from the dead. Doubts and fears gripped them: the women were afraid and trembling. Mary Magdalene believes somebody has removed Jesus’ body. Peter went to empty tomb and wondered what happened. Mary thought Jesus was gardener and asked if he knew where they had taken Jesus’ body. The disciples didn’t believe Mary’s report. When Jesus appeared, the disciples were afraid and thought He was a ghost. Thomas didn’t believe the other disciples’ report. Sometimes our circumstances can be so overwhelming that it causes doubt to take root in our lives.
Second is other people. One of the biggest influences of doubt in our lives is when we get around doubt pushers, those who have the ability to discourage and pull themselves down as well as the others around them. We see this in our Scripture today, when a dozen spies went over to Israel, the very land that God had prepared to give them, to scout for the invasion. Ten came back and said they were not able to defeat the people while two said yes they could. Now these ten doubters experienced the same things as the other two spies did. They went to the same place, spent the same amount of time and had the same experiences and yet, they came away with radically different conclusions. Doubters turn the conversation from the positive to the negative. They have the capability that no matter how good something is they always find the negative. Do you know anybody like that? Some people seem to think their spiritual gift is to be critical, to be the devil’s advocate or to always find the problem in the midst of the opportunity. The doubter is always a glass half full person, even when it’s the will of God as it was for the Israelites taking possession of the land. To make their case, doubters exaggerate and instill fear in other people. The spies came back saying that all the men were of great size and were wild barbarians. Do you think every one of them were the size Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Here’s what I’ve found about doubters: most of the time, they have a poor self image and struggle with self doubt and low self esteem. Like crabs in a bucket, they try to pull everyone else down around them.
Third is the comparison game. Comparing your abilities to others causes you to doubt your own abilities. Instead of looking to God, you start looking around at everybody else and what you begin to convince yourself of is that they have more talent, more abilities, more education, or more experience. The moment you start doing that, you're going to be filled with self-doubt. You can never win the comparison game because there’s always somebody smarter, more talented, more beautiful and more resourced than you. This is why the Bible says we should never play the comparison game. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” God doesn't want you comparing yourself to anybody else. He wants you to be unique. He wants you to be you.