The Surprising Value of Doubt
Updated: Jul 4
If you have some doubts, it doesn’t mean God is finished with you. Be assured that nobody lives on the mountaintop of faith every day.
Doubt is a more active state of mind than conventional theology would admit. Doubt is an acknowledgement of insufficiency. It is the heart of a man or woman crying out for help. Doubt forces questions that open the door to wisdom.
Most importantly, doubt is an indicator that faith is in the horizon – if the doubter can tap into it.
Jesus appeared to some of His disciples after He arose from death. They recognised and worshipped Him, but some still doubted (Matthew 28:17).
We all have times when we are worshipping and yet doubting – sandwiched between faith and doubt. We may know it is God but still struggle to believe or act on His word.
The doubting apostle
The name Thomas is synonymous with doubt. But Thomas was not all doubt. At some point, Thomas was willing to die for Jesus (John 11:16).
Sometimes, doubters are just courageous and pragmatic people. They would ask questions until they get it.
Thomas always had tough questions. One time, he said to Jesus "…we have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (John 14:5b, NLT).
No wonder it was Thomas who wanted a physical proof of Jesus's resurrection (John 20:25). This earned him the reputation of a doubter.
The value of doubt
Doubt could be a call to explore your faith and enrich your spiritual experience.
Thomas missed the first post-resurrection appearance of Jesus. Eight days later, Jesus returned just for Thomas. He invited Thomas to feel and see that He has been "wounded for his transgressions and bruised for his iniquities".
Even though Jesus said it is more blessed to believe without seeing (John 20:29), He still had to come down to Thomas's level.
Thomas's encounter with Jesus demonstrates that the grace of God works either way - whether we believe before we see or seek to see before believing.
The key here is to remain seeking in the face of doubts - this is worshipping despite the presence of doubts.
Jesus is still visiting doubting worshippers to draw them nearer, into closer intimacy, so they can touch Him, and receive grace to believe.
James H. Cone in 'The Cross and the Lynching Tree', notes: "Doubt is not denial but an integral part of faith. It keeps faith from being sure of itself."
When faith is too sure of itself, it becomes dogmatic and closes doors to a deeper revelation and relationship with God and people generally. Such faith alienates in a way that opens the backdoor to fundamentalism.
Doubt therefore performs an important role of keeping us humble and seeking, in the face of apparent insufficiency and inadequacies, but actively and constantly dependent on God.
This is key to a healthy long term relationship with God and with the people around us.
Thomas is a model for faith - not the mountain-moving faith that we hear about all the time.
This is the type of faith that yearns for and seeks God even when walking or sometimes crawling through the dark valley of the shadow of death.
It is faith because you can't see what others have seen, but like Thomas, you are hoping and expecting to somehow get there – if only Jesus can visit again, yes, He will.
This is why doubt does not stop God's purpose. God is sovereign and merciful, so that no flesh will glory in His presence.
Jesus bypassed doubt and empowered the same folks who doubted His resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20). Even Thomas finally cried, "My Lord and my God".
Are you ready to bring your doubts to Jesus?
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