Doubt is one of the greatest difficulties Christians face today. We often hear "the great faith of great men or women of God” spoken of; but, does this statement mean that they never struggled with doubt? Are we the only ones who struggle with this? Or, did these great men and women of faith also experience moments of doubt? Could it be that doubt is what brings a Christian into a tried and true life of faith?
Our father Abraham was undoubtedly a man of faith. "Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1, NASB) Can you invision Abram talking with his wife, Sarah, and telling her that they were going to leave to an unknown country, “which God will show them”?
He is rightly called the father of faith: Abraham, “the father of all who believe." (Romans 4:11 NASB). He trusted God to the point of being willing to leave everything, his comfort, his security, to follow the call of God, even if it didn’t make much sense ...
A spiritual giant? And yet ... what went on in his heart when the promise of God, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens (Genesis 15:5), was slow in coming to pass? Doubt opened a door in his heart to he thought that God would not keep His promises, so he chose to take matters into his own hands and Ishmael was born:
"But the child of the slave woman was born according to the flesh and had an ordinary birth, while the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of the promise." (Galatians 4:23 AMP)
The consequences of this decision are still seen today.
Nevertheless, God did not abandon His promise but chose to test the obedience of Abraham's heart:
Abraham believed in the existence of God (this was a cognitive, intellectual faith), he believed in God (this was an affective, personal, and confident faith), and so he put his faith into action (Genesis 22). Abraham trusted His God to the point of being willing to hold up a knife to sacrifice his son on the altar, trusting God even though he couldn’t understand. Because of this act of faith, God knew that Abraham feared Him and thus kept him from sacrificing his son and renewed His covenant with him. (Genesis 22: 15-18)
Hudson Taylor once said, "God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him and obey Him."
Faith is not the absence of doubt (negative) but the presence of obedience to God (positive).
Let's look at the group of Christians gathered at Mary's house to pray for Peter to be freed from prison (Acts 12). Their hearts were obviously full of doubt because the moment that Rhode, who forgot to open the door, announced the arrival of Peter, they said she was “out of her mind.” (NASB) And yet their doubt had not prevented their obedience: they had prayed for Peter and God answered their prayers.
John the Baptist had the privilege of being the one God chose to baptise Jesus. He even heard the voice of the Father affirming the divinity of Jesus (Matthew 3: 13-17); and yet, deep down in his prison cell, he started to doubt. "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" (Matthew 11: 2-3, NASB) John was not afraid to express his doubts, he was not afraid to be accused of lacking faith ... on the contrary, Jesus Himself gave this testimony: "... among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” (Matthew 11:11, NASB)
When Thomas expressed his doubts, Jesus showed him His scars. The evidence for his faith was found in Jesus’ wounds. Scars remind us of suffering, but they are also a sign that even if God does not keep us from being wounded, He will heal our wounds. Because God had answered his doubts through the wounds of Jesus, Thomas' doubts turned into hope and he became the evangelist to the Indies.
Our faith may be very small, ("I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24, NASB), very big, (he woman with the issue of blood said in her heart “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Mark 5:28, NIV), or it may be perfect, (“all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:24, NASB), so when fighting doubt, remember that God sometimes chooses not to reveal His plans to us because we would have trouble believing them!
"Do not tell God how great your storm is, tell the storm how great your God is.” - Hilda Barhoum