What should we do when doubts come? Tim encourages Christians not to feel shame about having doubts then shares examples of how doubt can ultimately point us back to God.
Can Christians have doubts about God? Every Christian has had some doubts at some point in their Christian life. We’re all finite creatures. We don’t know everything, and sometimes you get things wrong, and this possibility can cause us to doubt our beliefs. But this isn’t unique to Christians. Everyone has doubts.
So the question isn’t really can Christians have doubts, but rather, what should we do when doubts come? Doubts can be a good thing. They can cause us to look more closely at what we believe and why we believe it.
For example, a Christian who is going through a period of suffering may not feel God’s presence in his or her life and have some doubts about God’s existence. This forces the Christian to look on how they know God is real. Is their belief in God based on only emotions, or is it based upon evidence? Our feelings about God’s immediate presence in our lives may come and go, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter. Those who have good reasons for God — who He is and what He’s done — can stand upon those convictions in times of doubt. Why?
Because those convictions are based on firm evidence, not fickle emotions. We actually see this play out in Scripture. As John the Baptist sat in prison for his faithfulness to God, he was afflicted with doubts about Jesus. John sends word to Jesus by his disciples and asks, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Remember, this is the same John who at one time lept in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. This is the same John who confidently declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” This is the same John who baptized Jesus and heard the voice from heaven say, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”
But now, John is sitting in a prison awaiting a probable execution, and He’s wondering if He got the whole thing wrong. He’s doubting the identity of Jesus. But notice Jesus’ response. He says, “Go and tell John what you hear and see. The blind received their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them.”
Jesus doesn’t say look inside your heart for some subjective feeling. He doesn’t tell John to ignore his doubts and just believe blindly. Rather, Jesus points to objective evidence to substantiate who He is. The blind are seeing. The lame are walking. The deaf are hearing. In essence, Jesus tells him to believe based on the works that He’s doing. Also, notice Jesus’ response to John the Baptist. He doesn’t scold him for doubting. He doesn’t question his spirituality or call him a bad Christian. On the contrary, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”
Let me leave you with a challenge. Take your doubts head-on. Don’t ignore them. Unanswered doubts can drive people to despair. Instead, follow the example of John the Baptist. Raise your doubts, ask good questions, and search for answers. The Christian worldview can handle it.