How many times have we heard these admonitions in the name of faith?
Don’t doubt, just believe!
Don’t question, just have faith!
Your emotions will lie to you, stand on the truth!
While there is a degree of truth in these statements, they are not real life. We doubt, we question, and we have emotions which are real.
I recently heard a message by Andy Stanley I not been able to get out of my head. It was a look at the mysterious and often misunderstood John the Baptist. That sparked my thinking about this man.
Let’s look at a little background. At John’s birth, he is called prophet of the Most High, one who will go before Lord and prepare the way (Luke 3:4). Whenever anyone asked who he was, he always pointed to a greater one to come (Luke 3:15-16)
When John met Jesus, he clearly knew who He was. John 1:29 quotes him saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”
John had confronted Herod on an adulterous affair, leading to him vanishing off the ministry scene. (Luke 3:20)
This brings us to a strange passage in Luke 7:18-23. As John is languishing in prison, he sends messengers to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus responds by pointing out his actions. He is doing what the Messiah was to do. Vs 22 says, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.”
He finishes with an interesting statement. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”(vs 23) Other places it says the man who does not stumble or lose faith. This is directed towards John.
How did John go from proclaiming Jesus the Messiah who takes away sin, to running the risk of stumbling or being offended. Why did he need to ask if Jesus was the One?
As John was sitting there in his prison cell day in and day out, doubt crept in and clouded the truth. All he could see were those walls and where his future was headed, towards death.
Here are three things we learn from John in this story
Doubt can cloud what you know to be true.
It is easy to believe in good times, but when emotions come, things get cloudy.This doubt is not backsliding or losing your salvation, but a normal human response to hardship.
Will God do it for me?
John knew what Jesus was capable of and what He was doing for others. That was not the question. Perhaps John thought if he reminded Jesus he was in prison, then maybe He would work a miracle. Jesus never promised assurance of deliverance. We know that John is killed later during this imprisonment. But John had to wonder, will he do it for me?
Faith is in the Source, not the outcome.
John was doubting the results, but not Jesus himself. We need to do this as well when we are hoping for provision, healing, or a miracle.
Like John the Baptist, we can be convinced of something, but the power of pain and doubt can cloud our hope and vision.
Tom Bloomer once said, “When you pray you are trusting God, when God does not answer your prayer he is trusting you.” We know this is true because God promises that he will not give us more than we can bear. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Let’s apply this.
We can help those who are doubting. When we meet people like this, let’s come alongside them, reminding them of the truth they cannot see in the fog of questions.
Furthermore, when we are the one’s doubting, we must surround ourselves with people that can help us. We need to listen to the voice of truth, even if our emotions question it. We need to give ourselves grace in these season of life.
Which stage of life are you in? Doubting or helping others walk through their season of questioning?
Photo by j.o.h.n. walker courtesy of Creative Commons by flickr