Doubt is a crazy thing isnt’ it? Sometimes doubt comes directly from past experience. Like when I ask my youngest daughter, “Did you clean your room?” “Yes” she replies. I continue, “Did you clean it well?” She says, “Yes, I did.” I doubt it. Experience has taught me that she is not the tidy type who enjoys the simple joys of life, like having all her dresser drawers pushed all the way in.
Doubt can also be a result of a collision between fact and feeling. When something happens that we didn’t see coming or didn’t think should happen, we have a sense of doubt. Take Thomas as an example. He knew Jesus was dead. When he was told otherwise–voila–say hello to “Doubting Thomas”.
But doubt by definition is hinged on our feelings, isn’t it? Isn’t doubt our trump card for faith, hope, and belief? Doubt is our reasonable response (or so we think) to adversities of life. We think its reasonable because we use our emotions and sensations as our compass; as the thing that dictates to us what is true, what is real, and what isn’t. And in those moments, doubt becomes the very poison Jesus warns us of.
You think the word “poison” is too strong? Check out what James said in the first chapter of his book:
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” –James 1:6-8
Wow, did James just say that those who doubt shouldn’t expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord? Sheesh, if that’s not poison then I’m not sure what is! So, how do we stop ourselves from doubting? Well, I’m not wise man on a hill, but I do have a few thoughts.
First, understand where doubt comes from. We can trace the origin of doubt back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent introduced it to Eve in the form of a question that started, “Did God really say….?” Eve, meet doubt. Doubt, Eve.
Now, believe me when I say that I’m absolutely not a “the devil the made me do it” kind of Christian. But I do believe that we should rightfully acknowledge the adversary of our souls. Satan wants nothing more than to drive as big a wedge between you and God as he can; and he’ll often use the wedge of doubt to start the process of your demise. So, knowing where doubt comes from can give us a sobering reminder of what (and who) is behind it.
Next, we need to be realistic about what doubt does. Doubt weakens our view of God’s ability. Doubt takes a subjective viewpoint (ours) and imposes it on an objective reality (God’s power). We often allow what we see to dictate to us what is. This is also referred to as notion that “perception = reality”. My sister-in-law Markelle has battled with cancer for 5 years now. And for 5 years we have prayed daily for her healing. Every day, all of us. Not just us, but people across the country and in other parts of the world. 5 years. Everyday. And what does God do? Nothing. Now, we could say, “God isn’t really there, isn’t really listening, and doesn’t really care.” because that’s our perception; that is our angle on the information. But we all know (Markelle included) that her current reality does not decide the goodness of God. In truth, God is good no matter what. He can heal her this instant and He is good. He can take her home right this moment and He is good. He can leave her to continue to walk with Him on the journey of chemotherapy and other medications for years to come and He is good. But doubt tells us that God’s goodness is in flux. It ebbs and flows based on how things are going for us.
Lastly, doubt keeps us from fullness in our lives. Jesus scolded the disciples who didn’t seem to have the ability to do what Jesus did. Jesus only explanation for that was the presence of doubt. When Thomas came to Jesus after He had risen from the dead Jesus said to him, “Stop doubting and believe.”
Dealing with doubt is not an easy thing to do, especially when every message around you screams that you are justified in your disbelief and doubt. But consider the possibility that God is calling you to trust Him. Trust Him with your job, your education, your house, your family, and your life. It’s a huge faith step, but as far as I can tell, God is batting a thousand on rewarding such faith.