Have you ever doubted?
I’m not talking about the little things like whether you made the right decision on where to go to lunch. I’m talking about the biggest thing of all.
Have you ever wondered, “Is this whole Jesus thing really true?” “Is the God I have known and followed really who He says He is?”
Our doubts can come from various places. Sometimes we have strictly intellectual questions centered around whether God really exists at all. Other times our questions are far more complex, often rooted in immense pain and anger that we feel. Perhaps you are having a hard time squaring the pain that you are experiencing in life with the image of a good, loving God that you have grown up with.
No matter the source of your doubt, all believers have one thing in common: We all go through seasons of doubt. We all have those times in life where we believe, but we seriously question whether God really is who we have believed Him to be.
John the Baptist had this same type of doubt.
Recall that John was the one chosen to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. The Savior that the Jews had been waiting for through generations was finally coming, and John was to usher Him in.
John did not just believe in Jesus, he was absolutely convinced. If there was ever anyone who was 100% sure that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, it was John the Baptist.
It’s this backdrop of his life that makes this next episode so shocking.
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” Matthew 11:2-3
John had good reason to doubt. For starters, he was locked in a cell, away from the outside world that he loved so much. The only window in these cells was at the very top of the wall, small enough to only let in a minimal amount of light and high enough for him to not be able to see out of it. He also had some crushed expectations of Jesus. Like other Jews of the day, John probably had a very different picture of how the Messiah would look. Most believe that He would come in great power as a political force. When Jesus came in humility, as a servant with grace, John likely felt a little let down.
We don’t know how long this doubt about Jesus was pent-up inside of John, but we do know it was long enough that he finally had to bring it to Jesus. The days of questioning deep in his heart if everything he has believed was really true had finally caught up to him.
John had no idea how Jesus was going to respond. Was He going to be angry? Was He going to dismiss Him, just telling him to have more faith? All John knew was that he could no longer keep this doubt inside. It would eat away at him.
Your doubts and questions will eat away at you as well, unless you address them. When we have doubt, we have to bring it into the light. Seek out books, resources, Pastors, and friends. But before all of that, and most important of all, we are to follow John’s example and bring our doubts to Jesus.
The only difference between us and John is that we know how Jesus will respond to us.
- He will meet us where we are at. Consider Jesus’ initial response upon hearing John’s doubt.
“And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.’” Matthew 11:4-5
Jesus didn’t ridicule John. When confronted with the fact that the one who was not supposed to doubt was now having serious questions about what he believed, Jesus reacted the way we would expect Him to. He met him right where He was. He didn’t try to change the subject or rebuke him for having questions. He simply answered, with evidence, the question that was posed to Him.
When we bring our doubts to Jesus, He will not rebuke us, but He will walk with us and reassure us that He really is who He says He is.
- He confirms your standing with Him. Nothing we do changes the way Jesus feels about us, even doubting.
“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11
Doubt can bring great shame. Because we are so often told not to doubt, we seldom feel comfortable talking about it. The shame that our questions produce often translates into our relationship with the Lord. We somehow think that our doubts, if expressed to Him, will change the way He sees us. They don’t.
Right after He is told about John’s doubt, Jesus reaffirms how He sees John. John’s doubt did not change the way Jesus saw him, and your doubt does not change the way Jesus sees you.
You doubt does not change your status as a son or daughter of God. It does not change how much He loves you as a son or daughter, and it does not change the calling God has placed on your life.
You can take your questions and doubts to Him without worrying at all that He is going to see you any differently.
Do you have pent-up, hidden doubt? Do you wonder deep in your heart whether God really is who He says He is?
When we keep our doubt hidden inside of us, it eventually will lead us to a place further away from Jesus. If, on the other hand, you bring it out into the light and turn it over to the Lord, you will find that you have doubted towards faith and that you are closer and more confident in who the Lord is than ever before.