Holding On To Your Faith in the Midst of Doubts
Doubt is the unique problem of a believer.
We have to believe in something, in order to doubt it. So usually in the New Testament when it focuses on doubt, it is referencing believers.
Within the context of faith, doubt may arise when our burdens feel too heavy to lift.
Doubt may arise when expectations go unmet or when there seems to be no answer to a challenging situation.
Doubt may arise when we feel lonely, rejected or depressed or when we face struggle after struggle, with no end in sight.
Doubt may arise when we are walking with the Lord faithfully and then tragedy hits.
Doubt may arise when small lingering trials go on and on and we wonder where God is in the midst of it all.
Doubt arises because of our humanity and while it may be human – it is not okay to remain in a state of doubt. The good news is, even in our doubts, the God we are not sure of, is certain to meet us right where we are. And so that brings us to today’s passage in John chapter 20.
After Jesus died on the cross, the disciples were gathered together in the upper room and Jesus appeared to them. This is what happened next…
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
For some reason, Thomas missed the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples in the upper room. Perhaps Thomas pulled away from everyone in his sadness and disconnected for a few days. As a result of him not being with his brothers-in-Christ, he missed out on seeing Jesus.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”
Thomas was not enthused to hear that they saw Jesus and he doubted it. He replied:
“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.”
This was a high demand. He not only wanted to see the nail marks but he wanted to touch Jesus’ wounds as well. Without doing this, he said he would never believe.
Why did Thomas doubt?
Perhaps Jesus’ death on the cross was so bloody and gruesome that it was hard to believe he could be alive. He may have thought, how does anyone just rise from that!
It’s interesting to note, that Thomas is not one to humor the other guys or pretend that he believes, just to please them. He is honest that he does not believe them and is left surrounded by his rejoicing friends, while he doubts.
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them.
Jesus allowed time to pass before he would remove Thomas’ doubts. The first time Jesus appeared to the disciples would have been on Easter Sunday and now he is appearing the following Sunday again. This gives us the first example of Jesus meeting with believers on Sundays.
Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
John emphasizes that the doors were locked. Most likely the disciples were still a bit fearful and were remaining safe with the door locked. It was good that they were all together. Jesus had prayed before his death that they would grow in unity and oneness. He wanted them together. But this meant that Jesus did not enter the normal way and so he tells them to have peace. He does not want them to give way to their fears.
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
Jesus did not scold Thomas. He already knew what Thomas needed to believe and so he graciously offered him evidence. Jesus did not have to show his scars but he loved Thomas and so he gave him what he asked for. But then he requires of him to stop disbelieving and believe.
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Thomas did not just see Jesus with his eyes – he saw Jesus with his soul and he could not help but to cry out that he is Lord and God!
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus offers a special blessing to those of us who believe without seeing. We all live over 2,000 years after Jesus walked this earth and yet we suffer no loss from not getting to walk with him in the flesh.
You see the testimony of the disciples should have been enough for Thomas. Jesus wants us to be satisfied with his word and the testimony of other believers and not yearn for special experiences, in order to trust in Him.
And so John closes this chapter with these words:
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Jesus did many other signs but John did not record them because he knew that the purpose of his book had been accomplished. By reading the book of John from beginning to end, we have sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In the book of John, we see Jesus turn water into wine, heal the nobleman’s son, heal the lame man, feed the 5,000, walk on water, heal a blind man, raise Lazarus from the dead and raise himself from the dead!
Some will accuse us of having blind faith, but it’s actually unbelief that is blind.
But even for those of us who do believe, there are days when we wrestle with the deepest darkest questions of life. There are times when I’ve wondered why God allows things to be so hard for believers who are trying to obey his Word…and I’m reminded of the father in Mark 9, whose son was demon possessed. Jesus said he could heal the boy and the boy’s father exclaimed in desperation:
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
I so relate to this father. When we see our children suffer, it can shake our faith to the core. This father believed. He truly believed and yet he begged the Lord to help him overcome his unbelief!
Have you been there – you believe and yet you feel unbelief creeping in?
When you are tempted to doubt – quickly run to the cross! When we take a look at the cross, it is there we find the evidence of God’s deep, deep love for us.
When trials come and doubts begin to enter your mind, remember that we have such a limited perspective of life. God has a plan and purpose that we may not see just yet.
We must fight doubt with faith.
Remain in God’s Word. Stay tight with Jesus. When we are tight with Jesus – there is nothing that can shake our faith and we can have a solid, deep abiding faith because we know that our loving God is in complete control.
Keep believing and keep walking with the King,
Have you gone through seasons of doubt? What caused you to doubt and how did you overcome it?
My biggest trial was 18 yrs ago, when my ex-husband & his mother took all 4 of my children from me & turned them from God. I almost went crazy, but God gave me peace in my heart & my faith grew stronger. I push my children in God’s hand & prayed they would all return to Him before me.
I still miss the dearly, but they r in God’s hands & God leads me to live without them. It’s not easy, but by God’s grace I keep on.
This is heartbreaking. 🙁 I pray that one day they turn to the Lord and that your relationship with them can be restored.
Juliette…. Your situation IS MINE TOO!!! 7 uears ago my ex did the same thing with his mother and our 3 kids only they are hard core Mormon with a twist of incest. I too worry a lot about my kids. He was never participated in the kids lives until his mother decided they were old enough to be her kids. I am extremely heart broken as well but I believe the kids will be ok. I feel a deep sadness but I am at peace as well. It has been a tough journey but I know God and Jesus make this easier for me. Your strength gives me hope too. (((Hugs)))
Is there a video today?
No, I am just posting a devotional this week rather than a video.
My faith was shaken to the core last March when my youngest son passed away. I tried to return to church several times but the music or the sermons always left me leaving in tears. I stopped going to church because I didn’t want to keep crying. I wanted to go to find love and comfort. I still haven’t returned and next month will be the first anniversary of his passing. I never doubted that God was with me but I just wanted to be alone in my grief. Finding this website has brought me back into The Word and I thank you. I know God directed here.
I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot even imagine the pain you must feel losing your son. I am so glad you found us here and joined in and I pray that you continue to heal and find comfort in God’s Word.
My grown daughter has not had a friend for four years. She’s doesn’t go out many places because she has epilepsy, and our small town doesn’t offer much for her age to do. She stays alone and lonely in her apt every day after work. She has about given up on having a friend, a family, and God. I’ve been praying for years and haven’t seen any results, so yes, my faith has doubts. The Bible says how we should not be alone so it’s hard to understand why God doesn’t help her. I know God loves her, but she is drawing farther and farther away from Him. I am thankful she keeps hanging on, but hate that she has such an alone, lonely life.
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Hello Hurting Mom,
Thank you for sharing, I am a mom of a toddler girl and it would break my heart too if she were lonely for friendship.
Several years ago I was in a similar place myself. So very lonely in a very big city. I was born and raised in a small town so this was so challenging for me, I felt like I was invisible. During this season I read in a devotional “if you don’t have a friend, then be a friend”. They offered some ideas and ways to do that -volunteer at a local charity, food pantry, animal shelter, read stories to kids at the library, hospitality/greeting/coffee and donut team at church, or visit the elderly at a nursing facility. So I jumped online and found an opportunity to read stories to elementary aged kids at a local public school during their after-school program. Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t meet a friend at this opportunity, but getting out of the house and not focusing on my loneliness helped my spirit so much, it helped fill this gap of loneliness in this particular season for me. And it helped me keep the faith, to stay in the Word, and not allow dark thoughts to creep in. Being alone is exactly where the enemy wants us, to feel sadness and despair.
I pray that your daughter will feel the peace and comfort of Jesus during this season.
I struggled with infertility for many years, finally my husband and I decided to do an embryo adoption. I prayed to God to only let me get pregnant if the child would be healthy. I got pregnant with triplets anf prayed every single day for healthy babies and a safe delivery. I had identical boys twins and a girl, we were thankful that they were healthy and spent only two weeks in the NICU. They are now 2 months old and we just find out that the girl has down syndrome I feel devastated and feel that all my prayers and faith were in vain.
Sending prayers and hugs. That is a challenging diagnoses that will take time to process. I have recently started following a Christian author/speaker named Rebekah Lyons. She has two children with Down’s Syndrome. I know there are no easy fixes to what you are going through, but perhaps she might encourage you. May God bless you and your family.
I know a lot of very smart Christians, and it seems like a lot of these people are modern day Thomas’s. They believe, but they have to argue with their own inner dialogue in order to believe.
I often find myself with thoughts like “but what if it’s not God’s will?” Because, ultimately, his will decides what he does. And when I don’t get the answers I want, or they take a while… or never happen, that is what I say to myself. But really, that’s just a form of doubt.
My doubts do not come from believing who God is or THAT He is. My doubts come from knowing He can do anything but doesn’t always choose to.
In my head I definitely understand why He doesn’t choose to move on our behalf (or seemingly) in some things-for our own good. But my heart sometimes just can’t take it. It all stems back to when I lost our first baby to miscarriage after 4 years of trying to conceive. I even understand why He allowed the miscarriage (I was not walking with Him and nothing else could have brought me to my knees like losing that baby I wanted more than anything). Fast forward about 8 years, And 2 living children. I had another pregnancy with scary issues. I just couldn’t pray for the baby in my womb. Because I knew if He willed that the baby wasn’t going to make it nothing I prayed would change that. (Thankfully she is now 12!)
So this is where I always end up. Back to the knowing He can but knowing He chooses not to. And even tho I see the lessons in the bad times and things (there have been other huge ones over the years also) it’s really hard to know that my prayers don’t really make a difference. I’m coming back (clawing my way back really) from another time of my faith just being shaken to the core…..trying to prepare and learn so that the next time the bad thing WON’T shake my faith.