Doubt, according to the dictionary, is the status between belief and disbelief involving uncertainty or distrust or lack of sureness of an alleged fact. It is something that is undesirable to have as a Christian trait. Notice what Jesus had to say about it:
- Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:31 NLT)
- Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21 NLT)
We are living not only in the end times, but also in an extremely advancing technological age. This has led to our Christian beliefs being attacked viciously by the media that bombards us constantly. This then breeds doubt that has become a major factor destroying the fabric that holds us to our faith. We are literally getting to the point that unless these days are shortened, it will become extremely difficult to live openly as a true Christian. Because doubt has been instilled, we have lost our moral compass here in the United States. How can it be that Russia has recognized the dangers of allowing an openly gay society by making it a punishable crime to openly promote homosexuality, but we here in America promote it with open arms? So-called Christians have been infected by doubt. They have been taught to doubt what God says is sin. They doubt whether the Bible is really the Word of God. Doubt has become a disease that is spreading to epidemic level. We need to wake up to the dangers of doubt. Doubt can set-in in a number of different ways in our lives. Only the Lord judges what He will tolerate. But because of its crippling effects and its influence on those around us, we are still responsible.
Whenever anyone thinks about an example of doubt in the Bible, they usually think about Thomas the Apostle who had to see and touch Jesus’ wounds before he believed that Jesus had really risen from the dead. But the one who really intrigues me about doubt is John the Baptist. I guess I find it intriguing because it shows how anyone can go through a time of doubt and how the Lord can restore confidence in the midst of doubt. Read the following 3 portions of Scripture:
- Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby (John the Baptist) in my womb jumped for joy. (Luke 1:43, 44 NLT)
- Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:32-36 NLT)
- John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” (Matthew 11:2-6 NLT)
From those Scriptures we can see that it had been revealed to John the Baptist that Jesus was the Messiah. It was first revealed to him in the Spirit when he was still in the womb. Later it was revealed to him consciously when he baptized Jesus. The day of Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of the end of John the Baptist’s ministry. From that point on he had joyfully directed people away from himself to follow Jesus. But as he sat in Herod Antipas’s prison waiting likely execution, he was afflicted with doubts about Jesus.
I found the following on the Internet and it sums up John the Baptist’s doubt quite well and how Jesus restored him from his painful doubt:
Now John the Baptist sat in Herod Antipas’ filthy prison. He had expected this. Prophets who rebuke sinful kings usually do not fare well. Unfortunately, he had not been an exception. Herodias wanted him dead. John the Baptist could see no reason why she would be denied her wish.
What he hadn’t expected was to be tormented by such oppressive doubts and fears. Since the Jordan, John the Baptist had not doubted that Jesus was the Christ. But stuck alone in this putrid cell he was assaulted by horrible, accusing thoughts.
What if he had been wrong? There had been many false prophets in Israel. What made him so sure that he wasn’t one? What if he had led thousands astray? There had been false messiahs. What if Jesus was just another? So far Jesus’ ministry wasn’t exactly what John had always imagined the Messiah’s would look like. Could this imprisonment be God’s judgment?
It felt as if God had left him and the devil himself had taken his place. He tried to recall all the prophecies and signs that had seemed so clear to him before. But it was difficult to think straight. Comfort just wouldn’t stick to his soul. Doubts buzzed around his brain like the flies around his face.
The thought of being executed for the sake of righteousness and justice he could bear. But he could not bear the thought that he might have been wrong about Jesus. His one task was to prepare the way of the Lord. If he had gotten that wrong, his ministry, his life, was in vain.
But even with his doubts, there remained in John a deep, unshakable trust in Jesus. Jesus would tell him the truth. He just needed to hear from him again. So he sent two of his closest disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
The affection that radiated from Jesus was palpable. Jesus was familiar with John’s sorrows and grief and the satanic storms that break on the saints when they are weak and alone. He loved John. So he invited John’s faithful friends to sit near him as he healed many and delivered many from demonic prisons.
Then he turned to them with kind tears glistening in his eyes and said, “Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” John would recognize Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 61:1) in those words. This promise would bring the peace John needed to sustain him for the few difficult days he had remaining.
Out of love for his friend, Jesus didn’t include Isaiah’s phrase “to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” John would understand.
When Jesus had sent John the Baptist’s disciples away, he said something stunning about John: no one born of women had ever been greater. This, right after John questioned who Jesus was.
In this age, even the greatest, strongest saints experience deep darkness. None of us are spared sorrow or satanic oppression. Most of us suffer agonizing affliction at some point. Most of us will experience seasons when we feel as if we’ve been abandoned. Most of us will die hard deaths.
The Savior does not break the bruised reed. He hears our pleas for help and is patient with our doubts. He does not condemn us. He has paid completely for any sin that is exposed in our pain.
He does not always answer with the speed we desire, nor is his answer always the deliverance we hope for. But he will always send the help that is needed. His grace will always be sufficient for those who trust him. The hope we taste in the promises we trust will often be the sweetest thing we experience in this age. And his reward will be beyond our imagination.
In John the Baptist’s darkness and pain Jesus sent a promise to sustain John’s faith. He will do the same for you.