Do you ever have doubts about God? Do you ever feel like He isn’t meeting your expectations? Do you ever feel a bit disappointed in how He is working?
If so, you are not alone. God is so good to preserve stories like this in His Word to give us an example of someone else who doubted. To show us that even the most spirit-filled and deeply devoted followers can have moments of doubt. And in this story, we also learn how to handle our doubts.
The doubter in this story: John the Baptist. John, the one who leaped in the womb in the presence of Jesus in the womb (Luke 1:41). John, the one who recognized Jesus as Messiah, saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him, and heard God speak over Him (John 1:29-36). John, the prophesied about messenger who would pave the way for the Messiah.
John is in prison, not for any wrongdoing on his part, but for proclaiming the truth and the need for repentance; for living out his calling. Commentators say he has likely been in prison for over a year.
I can imagine John thinking, “This isn’t how it is supposed to go down. I thought the kingdom of Heaven was at hand. Jesus, you’re being persecuted, I’m in prison, and Rome is still oppressing us. WHY AREN’T YOU FIXING THIS?”
Many things can cause us to doubt.
Going through difficult trials with no end in sight leave us vulnerable to doubting God’s goodness and provisions. Our limited view of God’s hand at work leaves us questioning and filling in blanks with incomplete information. Outside influences creep in, altering our perception of God and what he should look and act like. Unmet expectations can rock our faith. Like John, we may feel like things are not turning out the way we were sure they would.
Faith is hard in these circumstances. These things can drive us away from God. Most of us probably know someone who is far from God because they couldn’t reconcile their trials, expectations, and other opinions with God’s truth. But these circumstances can also draw us closer to God.
John gives us a great example of what to do when we are in this position of doubt. He doesn’t seek understanding from within or wisdom from others. He goes straight to the source, Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t rebuke John in his doubts. He also doesn’t respond with a simple, “yes, I am the One.” Instead, He responds with scripture and the prophecies about Himself (Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1). Jesus knows John will recognize Him in the scriptures. It is a reset of his expectations. A recalibration of his faith.
Sometimes we need a recalibration of our faith too. When we have doubts, we should admit it, and then take it straight to God. We should examine the scriptures about who God is. We should pray for God to reveal Himself to us in our doubts. And like John, this is where our faith will be strengthened. With confidence, we will be able to say, “You ARE the One. There is no other.”
Jesus goes on to say, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” (Matthew 11:6). In our perseverance through trials and temporary doubts; in reclaiming our faith, we will be blessed.
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