Tim Richards Column: Overcoming Doubt
Many believe Christians should never acknowledge their doubts. Having occasional doubts is normal since every believer sometimes has questions about their faith. Even strong believers occasionally acknowledge their faith is not as strong as they wish. What is most surprising is how scripture does not whitewash a Christian’s struggle to believe.
The father of the Jewish nation, Abraham, cried out to God, “O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son…? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth.” (Genesis 15:2, NLT) His statement does not immediately reveal a lack of faith. However, God had already promised him, “…I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted!” (Genesis 13:16, NLT) So without question, the man famous for faith at that moment doubted God’s promise.
There is another passage which may not seem connected but is. The concluding verses of Matthew record some of Jesus’ final words to his closest followers when Jesus gave them, the great commission. “…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NLT)
I have read this passage many times and have preached many sermons from it during 40 years of ministry. However, last week my senior pastor, Rusty Wirt, shared something with our church staff which I had not previously noticed. He pointed out that only two verses before the Great Commission, we find this statement, “When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!” (Matthew 28:17, NLT, emphasis added)
How incredibly ironic that at this victorious moment in Jesus’ ministry, those who knew him best worshipped, but still doubted. The apostles experienced Jesus in a way we can only imagine. These men lived with him for three and one-half years, ate with him, did ministry with him, personally witnessed his miracles, and had a front row seat for his amazing sermons and lessons. Yet some still doubted.
Even after spending 40 days with Jesus following his resurrection as he is about to ascend into the clouds, even in that moment, some remained questioned.
Despite the apostles struggles to believe, they all served God. In the following years all were persecuted for their faith yet not even one denied that faith. They believed despite their doubt!
I am convinced this is what God wants from each of us. Regularly feeding our faith makes it stronger so it can sustain us during those moments when our doubts weaken our faith.