I grew up believing any doubts I had about God meant I wasn’t a Christian.
The problem with this way of thinking was that I actually had doubts about God. When doubt would fill my heart and mind, I dealt with it by pushing it down and trying to ignore it. Eventually the doubt caught up with me and when it did, it did what all hunters do when they pursue and catch their prey. It devoured me.
I spent almost three years completely unsure of whether or not God was real and if he really cared about me. I mostly kept this to myself. I didn’t want others Christians to know because I was embarrassed and I hadn’t ever figured out what to do when I struggled with doubt. Now, years later, I think I have an answer for doubt. It is not a cure, but it is a place to start when doubt creeps or rushes in. It comes from looking the man whose name is synonymous with doubt, the disciple Thomas.
Here is Thomas’ story of doubt from John 20:
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas missed the first time Jesus appeared to the rest of the disciples. He was probably in line at a super hard to find food truck that made great fish tacos. Whatever the case, he missed it.
When the other disciples told him he missed it, you know what he didn’t do in his doubt?
He didn’t leave.
He didn’t go ask the local buddhists what they thought.
He didn’t sit at home and watch whatever it is they watched back then. Mud drying?
The powerful thing Thomas did in the face of his doubt was staying in the most likely place for Jesus to show up again. In doubt we are called to faithfulness. Can you imagine what that week in between was like for Thomas? His faithfulness did not pay off immediately. The rest of the disciples would have been celebrating and remembering the words of Jesus as he predicted his resurrection. Thomas sat and waited, not sure he could believe what they said to him. But he stayed around the rest of the disciples and a very long week later, Jesus showed up to erase his doubt.
Very often when we doubt, we go out looking for answers. We watch tv, listen to the radio, ask co-workers, or try to ignore it while only being able to hear the words of those who don’t believe. The lesson of Thomas is to stay plugged into the people and places where God is likely to show up. He will show up.
Find people that pray and sit with them. Find people that serve others and serve with them. Go tell a pastor/elder/someone you admire about doubt. If they can’t handle you having doubts, go find someone that can. Listen for stories of God at work, watch for lives that are changed. Ask people their stories of God at work.
But don’t run away. Have courage, be like Thomas, and draw near to where God is most likely to be found.