Summary: Just as Thomas doubted, we all must deal with doubt. Here are some specific steps to dealing with doubt.
“What’s Right With Doubt?” John 20:19-31
The sorcerer had fallen out of favor of the court, and the king sentenced him to death. On the day of the planned execution, the sorcerer told the king that if he would allow him to live for one year, the king could become famous around the world—because the sorcerer would make the king’s horse talk. If the sorcerer failed, the king could kill him—and the sorcerer wouldn’t object. The king agreed, and the sorcerer was spared for one year and dispatched to a dungeon. A duke, who was friendly to the sorcerer, sneaked up to the dungeon and said, “You are indeed a fool. I know and you know that you do not have the power to make animals speak. Now you will surely die.” The sorcerer answered, “I have a year. Many things can happen in a year. The king might die. Or I might die. And who knows? In a year perhaps the horse might talk.”
People deal with doubt differently to be sure. In the case of the sorcerer, though even he was doubtful about his ability to make the horse talk, he dealt with the situation by stalling; buying more time. We all have doubts. When it comes to those doubts that we have with regard to faith in Christ and belief in God, there are some things that we can do to deal with our doubt.
In today’s Scripture reading we see that Thomas was doubtful, skeptical, that the man who stood before him was, in fact, the resurrected Jesus. While Thomas is often chided for his apparent lack of faith, I wonder how many of us would have seen Jesus raised and immediately believed. I’d like to think that there is no way that I would not have immediately fallen in worship of Christ; but perhaps not.
Consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in the 24th chapter of Luke’s gospel. These two men walked and talked with the resurrected Jesus, even talking about what had happened to Jesus. After they realized who it was with whom they had walked, talked, and even broken bread, they were astonished, saying, “did our hearts not burn within us while we were with him!”
If we are going to deal with our doubt in any way that is effective, we are going to have to be honest in admitting that inside each one of us, at least at times, lives a doubting Thomas. This morning I will seek to identify the types of doubt that confront each one of us and then offer some insight into to dealing with doubt but asking the question, “What’s right with doubt?”
Types of Doubt
Factual Doubt. Some doubts arise from a lack or misunderstanding of the factual evidence with regard to Christianity. I am compelled to believe that the reason that many Christians are confused and that many unbelievers reject Christ, the Bible, and the Church, are because of a lack of understanding of the facts.
As is the case with so many situations in the modern culture, as a result of having access to so much information by way the internet, television, and other outlets, sometimes it is very difficult to sort out what is true and false, what is real applicable to our situation and what it not.
“(a) Factual foundations: A common form of uncertainty is that which questions the underpinnings of Christianity. Such might frequently occur in the case of new believers who have not thought through many of the main issues yet or even with more mature believers who are not sure of the facts. A common scenario would be the inability to answer critical accusations against Christianity due to one’s lack of knowledge on those subjects. In particular, the major issues here might concern the nature of the gospel or other central beliefs.”
There are many people who have only been told a part of the Gospel or who have received the Good News of Jesus Christ in a very haphazard fashion; free from deep study of the Scriptures or knowledge about the Bible and the Church.
An example of this might be the person who was not raised in Church but is inspired to make a confession of faith while watching Christian television and then never gets plugged into a church and, as a result never grows in their knowledge of the faith. Though they profess Christ, they do not have any depth of understanding with regard to who Christ is.
When difficult circumstances arise, they easily fall into the trap of doubt because they do not have the facts to support their faith. There are examples of such people who, though they possess a form of faith, have little or no foundation of knowledge of the truth to sustain it. These are those who are blown by every wind of doctrine that comes along. Their faith is easily victimized by the antagonism of an increasingly secular society and also by the difficult things that this life brings.