Summary: As we walk with God in our daily lives “doubt” seems to rise up consistently. When we talk about our faith, our assurance, or having confidence it can be easily recognized that the opposite of these is DOUBT.
Without A Doubt
Scripture: John 20: 24 - 29
Key Verse: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
Ill: One day John Wesley was walking with a troubled man who expressed his doubt as to the goodness of God. He said, "I do not know what I shall do with all this worry and trouble." At the same moment Wesley saw a cow looking over a stone wall. "Do you know," asked Wesley, "why that cow is looking over the wall?" "No," said the man. Wesley said, "The cow is looking over the wall because she cannot see through it. That is what you must do with your wall of trouble (and doubt). Look over it." Faith enables us to get above circumstances (and doubt) and look to Christ who is over all.
This morning I want to share with you about DOUBT.
As we walk with God in our daily lives “doubt” seems to rise up consistently. When we talk about our faith, our assurance, or having confidence it can be easily recognized that the opposite of these is DOUBT. Most days we can handle doubt ... it comes in the form of a fleeting question or thought. When it comes this way it is easy for us to simply say ‘oh, that’s just doubt, but I know different’ ... and it has no affect on us. Yet there are those times in our lives when DOUBT fills us to overflowing and begins to stir within us action that can affect our belief. That action for the Christian usually translates this way: we begin to doubt God and his care for us, and this can lead to unbelief and God not being able to do for us what He is able to do. Doubt can close the door on God in our lives when we let it.
It affected Thomas. Thomas struggled with doubt every day, just like we do. However, in this passage we find that he is overwhelmed and doubt has overcome him. He simply stated it this way in John 20:25b
“ ... Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
Can you relate to this?
What is DOUBT?
Wikipedia defines it this way: Doubt is a status between belief and disbelief. It involves uncertainty, distrust, or a lack of confidence of a fact, an action, a motive, or a decision. It brings into question some notion of a perceived "reality", and may involve delaying relevant action out of concerns for making mistakes or faults.
The term "to doubt" can also mean "to question one’s circumstances and life-experience".
My definition of doubt is maybe a bit more simplistic:
Doubt is when a person is not sure enough to believe in his trust in God, and it affects his actions.
One author (unknown) shares this in the context of spirituality: ‘People can see doubt as the opposite of faith. If faith represents a compulsion to follow a path, doubt may block that particular path. People use doubts and faith every day to choose the life path that they follow.’
When Thomas was told about the disciples experience of seeing Jesus he should have rejoiced and believed. As Christians we are taught that this is the appropriate and correct response. After all, why would his fellow believers lie to him? Yet Thomas reacted more in line in the way that most of us would react. He was not willing to simply believe. He wanted more proof. He had to see, in order to believe.
Does this mean he had less faith than the others? I don’t think so. The others had the advantage of already seeing Jesus. They too had doubts when Mary came to them the first time and told them the tomb was empty; that Jesus was alive. Some of them had to run to the tomb to see for themselves ... they were not willing to accept the word of Mary, or her experience. It was only when Jesus appeared to them for the first time and spoke the words “Peace be with you!”, showed them his hands and side that turned their doubt into belief.
There is an old addage that says ‘seeing is believing’.
In the Christian context this is something that we battle every day. For Jesus reminds us, as he reminded Thomas, that our faith and belief must be more than just seeing. Jesus said this after he appeared to Thomas: (vs 27 & 29)
“Stop doubting and believe. ... Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”