Summary: Time for a true confession. Mine won’t compete with celebrity scandals on TV or show up on papers at the checkout line. I confess that I struggle with doubt. I struggle with the thought that it is possible to not doubt. Doubting seems so natural.
Prayer Keys - Not Doubting
“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1:6-8
In 1981, Norman Shirk of Dallas, TX, wrote:
“Let me meet you on the mountain, Lord, just once. You wouldn’t have to burn a whole bush. Just a few smoking branches And I would surely be your Moses.
“Let me meet you on the water, Lord, just once. It wouldn’t have to be on White Rock Lake. Just on a puddle after the annual Dallas rain and I would surely be your Peter.
“Let me meet you on the road, Lord, just once. You wouldn’t have to blind me on North Central Expressway. Just a few bright lights on the way to chapel and I would surely be your Paul.
“Let me meet you, Lord, just once. Anywhere. Anytime. Just meeting you in the Word is so hard sometimes. Must I always be your Thomas?”
Time for a true confession. Mine is a confession that will not compete with celebrity scandals on TV. It is a confession you will not see on the papers at the checkout line at the grocery store. I must confess that not only do I struggle with doubt, but I struggle with the thought that it is possible to not doubt. Doubting seems so natural.
It seems natural all through the Bible. In the Old Testament. Job questioned God. Psalms include complaints to God when life doesn’t make sense. Abraham, Moses, and Jeremiah are a few of the Old Testament faithful who were confused by what God was doing. Elijah won a contest of faith against 850 false prophets, then ran away in fear.
In the New Testament, after the crucifixion, the disciples were in despair. The one who changed water into wine, the one who commanded the wind and the waves, the one who conquered demons, disease, and death in others, had himself died.
Then they saw the evidence of the resurrection. Then they saw Jesus himself. He appeared to them again and again over forty days. In Matthew 28:16-17, immediately before the Great Commission, we read, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
After all that, some still doubted. Even while worshiping, some doubted. Doubt may be more natural than we would like to think.
The most famous doubter of all time is Thomas. Through history Judas has been the only disciple criticized more than Thomas. Tradition has given him a new nickname, “Doubting Thomas.” He wanted proof that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
But can you blame him? When the resurrected Christ appeared to some of his disciples, Thomas was not there. Can you imagine seeing someone die, knowing he was buried, and then hearing from friends that they had seen him alive? You might feel sympathetic toward them, expecting them to get over it in time. If they keep telling you on and on and on, you might feel a need to confront them. That was the situation for Thomas.
In recent years, many Christians have been more sympathetic to Thomas. They have recognized that if they had been in the same position they may have had the same doubts. In his position, I have almost no doubt that I would have been a doubter. My nickname might have become, “Doubting Mark.”
James Eads built the first steel bridge in America. It spanned the Mississippi River. Many people thought it would collapse under its own weight. Few trusted it.
Eads ordered fourteen locomotives to stop on the bridge at the same time. The people gave up their doubts and trusted the integrity of the bridge. Its builder already had faith that it would stand, but to conquer doubts he proved it was stronger than it had to be.
James Eads knew how to help people overcome their doubts. Jesus knew how to help Thomas overcome his doubts. "Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).
Devotional writer Selwyn Hughes wrote “Those who doubt most, and yet strive to overcome their doubts, turn out to be some of Christ’s strongest disciples.” Thomas was transformed, saying, “My lord and my God!” That does not hit us as powerfully as it would hit the original disciples. Before that day, they called Jesus rabbi, meaning teacher. They called him Christ, meaning the anointed one. The called him the son of the living God. No one, before Thomas, had called Jesus, “God.” Jewish leaders would not have hesitated to pass the death sentence on Thomas for blasphemy. It was an incredible and dangerous thing to say.