When In Doubt
By Dot Bowen
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matthew 11:2-3 (NIV)
Zechariah and Elizabeth loved each other and God. The only thing missing in their home was the joy of a child. They were not getting any younger, and the possibility of having a child was passing by as quickly as the days. Desperate, lonely, and at the brink of losing all hope, things changed. No longer were they talking to God, but God spoke to them. He had heard their prayers and wanted to give them the good news: Elizabeth would soon be pregnant and his name was John. We know him today as John the Baptist—a name given to him because he baptized so many new converts.
As John was preaching about repentance, Jesus walked up and personally asked John to baptize Him. Can you imagine how John must have felt when he was chosen to announce, baptize, and lead others to the Messiah? John’s role in announcing the coming Messiah brought a close bond between John and Jesus. I find it interesting that he began to doubt Jesus, especially when John needed Him the most. When John’s life became difficult, he came face to face with his own doubt. He struggled with knowing if Jesus really was God or if they should hope for another Messiah?
Sitting in jail, John sent someone to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” John’s question “if Jesus was the Messiah” initially took me by surprise until I remembered John was in prison. Maybe John’s view of the Messiah was to establish His kingdom and bring peace to Israel, and this was not what Jesus was doing. As John approached death, he had to face the reality that what he expected from God and what was happening were two totally different things.
This reminds me of my own times of doubt when I longed for God to change my circumstances and nothing changed. Difficult circumstances can cause even the strongest believer to question the goodness and power of God. When things get tough, it’s very common to doubt whether Jesus is God and to question His concern for us. I want to offer a few suggestions to consider when you are filled with doubt that have helped me.
- Know your questions do not surprise God.
- Know God is unchanging and always on your side—no matter the circumstance.
- Read and re-read Psalm 52:8-9 for encouragement.
- Pray and ask God to change your attitude, actions, and feelings about your doubt.
Read over and “sip” on the following questions. Your answers will guide you when you are struggling to trust God and feeling overwhelmed with doubt.
- Do I believe Jesus is the Messiah and can be trusted in all situations?
- Am I afraid to admit my doubt? If so, why?
- Read over John 16:33, and consider how this verse speaks into your life right now. Does it bring you comfort?
Jesus didn’t criticize John for asking if He really was the Messiah. Nor did He stop loving or using John. Jesus’ reply is found in Matthew 11:4-5, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” John received comfort from the words of Isaiah. Jesus was doing exactly what He promised He would do, and John could rest in the promises of God Here is what we must focus on this week: God understands His children will doubt His love, yet God is faithful to His Word and to His children. Doubt does not change the faithfulness of God; doubt tempts His child to not trust Him when we need Him the most.
Further Reading Scripture