Having doubt visit you is not the worst thing in the world. The visitation of doubt is not sin; it becomes sin when you allow it to take up residence in your life and erode your trust in God. If the greatest believer that ever lived up to his time, John the Bapstist, had doubts, you’re going to have doubts too, and you’ll be okay. Doubts in the believer ought not to be, but they are; sometimes they are the stirrings of a lively faith. As Dag Hammarskjald said, “Bless your uneasiness as a sign that there is still life in you.”
The Journey: Luke 7:18-19
John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
When the New Testament talks about doubt, it primarily focuses on believers, not unbelievers. The presupposition is, you have to believe something before you can doubt it; you have to be committed to it before you begin to question it.
John the Baptist, last of the Old Testament prophets, forerunner to the Messiah, cousin of Jesus, came to a place where he had some serious doubts about the Lord. John had done his job by boldly announcing the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah, but for all his faithfulness, he ended up in prison, condemned to death, and naturally began to wonder if he had got it all wrong about Jesus.
John had doubts, and in a sense, that was okay. In fact, Jesus says, “I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John.” (Luke 7:28, NLT) So how is it that John can doubt and still be a great believer, especially since Scripture tells us not to doubt? It is because John’s doubt wasn’t from unbelief; it was from belief. His question implied that he believed but his circumstances had caused some confusion. So he asked, “I believe you’re the Messiah; am I wrong to believe that?” The very fact that he asked Jesus indicates that he had not lost his faith; it was still stirring.
Having doubt visit you is not the worst thing in the world. The visitation of doubt is not sin; it becomes sin when you allow it to take up residence in your life and erode your trust in God. If the greatest believer that ever lived up to that time had doubts, you’re going to have doubts too, and you’ll be okay. Doubts in the believer ought not to be, but they are; sometimes they are the stirrings of a lively faith.
Among the many Bible references on doubt, one in Luke 12:29 is especially instructive. In the King James Version it says, “Seek not what you will eat or drink, neither be of doubtful mind.” The Greek word for doubtful is interesting; it is meteorizo. (We get our word meteor from it.) Meteorizo means, “to be suspended in midair.” Jesus was saying, “Don’t get hung up on this!” In other words, keep yourself firmly planted in what you know; keep coming back to what you believe.
Like John, your expectations of Jesus aren’t always going to be met—and doubt will pay you a visit. Like John, you are going to be surprised by difficult and unexpected circumstances—and doubt will come calling. Like John, you live with an incomplete revelation of God’s ways and God’s plan—and doubt will show up once in a while.
So what should you do when doubts comes knocking? Jesus says,
Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. (Luke 7:22, NLT)
In other words, there are two remedies for doubt: One, you go back to what has been heard. You plant yourself firmly in the unassailable witness of the Word of God. Two, you go back to what has been seen. You plant yourself firmly in the witness of the faithful. The words and works of Jesus, recorded and verified, are the answer to your doubt.
Then Jesus added one more thing, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:23, NKJV)
When your Messiah doesn’t meet expectations—and there will be times he won’t—don’t get offended! Even though your circumstances may seem like Jesus is not in charge, just remember: He is, and he never makes mistakes.
But neither does he always explain himself, so keep your uneasiness in check.
Are you experiencing any doubts about Jesus? Go back to what the Word of God says, lean into the witness of those did not waver in their faith throughout history, and then simply offer God the greatest gift you could ever give—your trust!