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Overcoming Doubt

January 30th, 2013

God’s Word and character persuade trust and dissuade doubts.

“I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9: 24 NIV.

A child does not begin life with doubts. They believe; belief is natural to them. Unfortunately, life soon teaches you to doubt, because there seems little about which you can be steadfastly sure. Doubt is a choice you make. You learn to doubt by experiencing people and things that are not trustworthy. You learn to doubt what you hear. Promises are made and broken. You learn to question authority; authorities are not always right and slow to admit when they aren’t. Doubt begins early and grows until stopped.

Both doubt and belief are choices you make. You can find supporting evidence for either, but you cannot do both. Doubt comes naturally; belief only comes spiritually. Doubt feels safe; belief seems risky. Doubt looks at circumstances, and questions God; belief looks at God, and questions circumstances. Doubt protects you from disappointment; Belief promises you God’s faithfulness. Doubt rehearses excuses to expect little; belief rests on God’s promises to expect much. The choice is not easy, but it is yours to make.

Mark’s Gospel tells of a father who brought his son to Jesus for healing. Read Mark 9:20-27 NIV. His desperation made him want to believe that Jesus could heal his troubled son. The worried dad conditioned his request on Jesus’ ability, ”If you can do anything . . help us.” Jesus refocused the dad with his choice to believe, “Everything is possible for him who believes!” The issue is never about what God can or cannot do; His power and authority are unchangeable. The issue is what you will or will not do. Will you choose to believe or doubt? Your response should be as honest as his, “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” He will help you; He will not do it for you, nor can anyone else. The choice is yours.

Anyone, even the best of people, can be infected with a similar attitude that troubled Thomas, a disciple of Jesus. After the crushing disillusionment of Jesus’ crucifixion, Thomas doubted his friends when they reported Jesus was miraculously alive. That was contrary to everything he had ever known and believed possible. When told, he responded with a mistaken certainty, “Unless I see  . . and put my finger into the print of the nails in His hands and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25 NKJV. Thomas was as my friend, Kenny, described all of us, “prone to believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs.” Foolishly, we feed our doubts and starve our beliefs. He could believe but only if he would choose to believe; belief is a choice you make, as is doubt. Don’t battle your doubts; choose to believe.

Jesus’ response was so much different than mine or yours would likely have been. With kindness and understanding, Jesus invited Thomas to do exactly what would persuade his trust and dissuade his doubts. Read John 20:26-29 NKJV. It’s just my assumption, but I don’t believe Thomas ever reached his hand to touch Jesus’ hands or side, in spite of Jesus’ invitation. The living Christ standing before him with all the authority of Heaven was overwhelmingly convincing. Listen to Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s where you and I will walk most of the time – between seeing or believing. The more the Word of God abides in you, belief strengthens and doubts weaken. See John 15:5-7 NKJV. Seek the company of people who encourage your faith. See Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT. Belief is the strongest posture to combat doubt.

My prayer for you today is that your heart will rest sure in God’s Word and character.

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