Doubt [noun]: uncertainty about the truth or existence of something
Doubt [verb]: the lack of conviction in or the reluctance to believe
Doubt. It’s both a thing we wrestle with and a decision we make. It’s easy to question God when our circumstances don’t change. We doubt His faithfulness and His intentions. We lose heart and stop believing. We become offended. We lose our confidence in God.
“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:6 ESV
Right before Jesus spoke these words, John the Baptist told his disciples to find Jesus and ask if He was the Messiah (Matthew 11:2-3). John had been imprisoned for about two years at this point and was having doubts. He was in jail not because he did something wrong, but because he did something right (Matthew 14:3-4). The plan, or so John had thought, was for the Messiah to deliver His people from hardships and bring justice. Christ’s intentions contradicted what John had expected.
His faith and patience were tested. He had been long-suffering, and it had messed with his thoughts. His confidence in God began to dwindle. He was skeptical, and his skepticism made him indecisive. Truths were weighed with lies. John the Baptist thought he might have gotten it all wrong. Was his faith misguided? Should he look for someone else who would meet his expectations?
Losing Our Confidence In God
There are many reasons we doubt. We lose our confidence in God when our endurance is prolonged. Skepticism grows when our expectations go unmet. We become uncertain when we don’t understand what God is doing in our lives. Suspicion lingers when we allow outside influences to direct our focus. But having doubts is not a bad thing if we know what to do with them. If we keep them hidden and allow them to fester, they birth unbelief. But if we deal with them honestly and openly, they can increase our faith. John knew the dangerous position he was in and needed to speak candidly. He also knew that the only person who could adequately address his doubts was Jesus himself.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130 NIV
Although John doubted Jesus, he still trusted Him enough to give him a truthful answer. He had not forgotten that part of His character, and Jesus gave him an honest response. He answered in a way that John could understand. Jesus reminded him that what he had heard aligned with what he had been anticipating (Matthew 11:2). He also allowed John’s disciples to witness the evidence that supported those truths (Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1-2).
“Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” Matthew 11:4-5 NLT
He was who He said He was. He was who John believed him to be. Although John was expecting a deliverer that would use their authority to liberate him and the entire nation of Israel, Jesus had been showing His power all along. He had dominion over death (9:23-26), demons (8:16-17), disease (9:20-22), nature (8:23-27), Satan (8:28-34), and so much more. John had been looking for all the wrong proof. He had doubted Jesus because he misunderstood His ministry, His purpose. But Christ’s grace covered his doubts and reignited his faith.
I, too, need my doubts covered by grace. I need my confidence in God reignited. In a season of misunderstanding, my faith and patience are tested. Questioning God’s plan for my life, I wrestle with doubts. And at times, I choose to doubt. I am offended when God doesn’t do what I want Him to do, especially when I see all that He is doing in the lives of others.
“Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come…” Luke 17:1 NKJV
God promises that we will be offended, by others and by Himself. Offense is in the context of a relationship, and it is inevitable. But choosing to become offended is optional; it’s a choice. I can doubt God’s plan for my life, or I can choose to trust what I don’t understand and hold on to the truth.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV
God is always working for our eternal good. His ways are not our ways, but they are far better. When I doubt God, it’s because I want to run my life my way. I trust in my timeline, not His. I want to see change when and how I see fit. But that is not how God works. He loves us far too much to work in our ways and on our timeline. We focus on the external, while He focuses on the internal. When He is transforming us, complete fulfillment is on the other side of disappointing circumstances.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV
But God has given us His Word. In times of doubt, we must go back to the truth and hold on to it – even when we can’t see it or feel it. I once heard someone say, “never give up what you know for what you don’t know.” There are some things that we will never understand and others that we will come to know later on in life. But He has given us much that we can understand. His Word belongs to us. He gave His promises to us.
Regain Your Confidence in God
When we lose our confidence in God because we have been long-suffering, hold on to this promise: God will give you all the strength and endurance you need (Isaiah 40:29). When unmet expectations cause you to become skeptical, remind yourself of this: God is leading you to a place of fulfillment (Proverbs 3:5-8). When you don’t understand what God is doing in your life, think of His vow to you: He goes before you and is preparing the way (Deuteronomy 31:8). And when outside influences shift your focus, remember this truth: seek God and fix your gaze on Him (1 Chronicles 16:1). So let go of your doubt and lean into the truth; God knows what He is doing. Are there any doubts you’re currently wrestling with? If so, what’s influencing your faith (positively or negatively)? Let me know your thoughts.
Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia Newbell
All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts for Boundless Living by Morgan Harper Nichols
This article originally appeared here.