Plagued by Doubt
John 20:25 Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.
Like anyone, I have had those moments in life when I have doubted God’s existence or plan. I have, in doubt, demanded that He prove himself to me. If you are there, just make the lights blink… If you really exist and if you do love me, you will get me out of this mess… My skepticism has usually coincided with some misery (often self-induced) from which God did not deliver me as I desired. God, why don’t you fix this? Are there at all? Prove yourself! I had a need for God and as He did not deliver, I doubted.
For others, faith is more of an intellectual problem. For critical thinkers, the Bible presents some whoppers. God became man, died and was resurrected. Jonah was swallowed and vomited by a big fish. Noah contained all life on Earth in a boat. For those who question everything, the Bible presents a few problems.
Is God offended by our doubt? Does it anger him? Thomas, in today’s passage, doubted Christ. As one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas knew of his predicted death and resurrection. He had been told by the other disciples that Jesus had come back to life. He would not believe it though. Unless I see, I will never believe.
Thomas was a critical thinker and a pragmatist. He knew that people did not just come back to life. He knew how badly the others wanted it to be true. To him, the evidence just did not add up and so, he would not accept the reality of a risen Christ until he saw it with his own eyes. Jesus, if you are real, you are going to have to show yourself to me…
Jesus did not seem to be offended by this. Instead, He came to Thomas and comforted him. Peace be with you… Put your finger here, and see my hands… Do not disbelieve, but believe (vv 26, 27). Thomas wanted it to be true but could not make the leap without seeing, so Jesus showed him. Jesus did not chastise him. He just showed himself to one who wanted to believe.
Doubt, along with critical thinking, are character traits that are not wrong in themselves. They, in fact, can be quite helpful. There are many false teachers who will twist the word of God into something destructive. Doubt and critical thinking are necessary skills to employ in understanding God and the Bible. Like any character trait, it is what we do with our doubt that makes it constructive or destructive.
If, in my doubt, I turn from God and use it as an excuse to pursue my own destructive desires, I will find destruction. If, however, I use my doubt to motivate me to find answers, then my doubt can actually grow my faith.
When I doubted God’s existence because He did not deliver me from my self-inflicted disaster, I had to find out why. I set out to read, pray and understand. God showed me that I was not pursuing him, I was only using him. He wanted to fix me, not my circumstances. Like Thomas, it was my doubt that motivated me to seek Christ. It was in my seeking that He found me.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.