Dealing With Doubt

The people who are perplexed and wrestle with doubt, in my opinion, are the most intellectually honest people in the world. They are men and women who cannot rest on unthoughtful traditions or flattering words; they must get to the bottom of things. Even a light survey of the Gospels reveals that Christ was fond of these kinds of people.

How did Jesus deal with doubters?

Jesus never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, “I can’t see it.” Unbelief says, “I won’t see it.”

  • Doubt is honest; unbelief is obstinacy.
  • Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.

Christ attacked the unbelief of the Pharisees and scribes, but He was generous and tolerant of the doubters like Peter (Matt.14:28-33), Thomas (John 14:5-6; 20:19-28), Philip (John 14:8-9), and even the Pharisee, Nicodemus (John 3:1-16).

How did Jesus deal with their doubts?

The church said, “Burn him” or “Brand him,” but Christ says, “I’ll teach him.” When Thomas doubted His resurrection, Jesus did not give him a tongue lashing―He gave him facts! Jesus said, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). The great lesson of the New Testament way of looking at doubt is not to brand people, but to lovingly and wisely teach them. Faith is never opposed to facts or reason, it is opposed to sight.

How are we to deal with doubt in those to whom we minister?

  • First, we must make all the concessions to them that we can.
  • Second, we must challenge them to set aside, by an act of will, all unsolved problems. Problems like evil, the Trinity, and the relationship between human will and predestination. These are questions that the biggest brains in the world have wrestled with and have never solved completely.
  • Third, remember that talking about difficult or unresolved theological issues only aggravates the doubter.
  • Fourth—and this is a very important point—turn away as soon as you can from the reasoning and the feelings and go to the man’s moral life. By this I mean leave the great perplexing issues and deal with whether he is doing any good or is wasting his life. Shift him from thinking about things to doing things. In other words, what is he doing with his life? Is he making any difference? Any good that has happened in the world came from doing and not just thinking. At this point you are in a perfect position to show him Christ and point him to what He has done.

How are we to deal with doubt in ourselves?

  1. Ask God and believe that He is not reluctant to give you wisdom. (James 1:2-5)

  2. Intend to obey His will before He reveals it. (John 7:17)

  3. Don’t lean on your own common sense, but acknowledge His right to rule in your life and bow your reason to His majesty. (Prov.3:5-6)

  4. Look to the facts of the Word of God to show you how to live each day. (Ps.119:105)

  5. Always doubt your doubts, never doubt you faith. (2 Tim.1:12)


What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Do you have that one safe friend?

I have lots of friends, good friends, but there was a time in my life when I didn’t have one particular person who was committed to the role of being that one safe friend. Why? FEAR. The fear that I wouldn’t measure up, fear of not fitting in, fear that I would disappoint…and biggest of all, fear of being hurt.

Fear pushes us around.

That period of my life feels like a lifetime ago and yet I still need to remain alert to fear attempting to shake my faith and push me towards isolating myself from others. Can you relate? I’ve come to the conclusion that I need, we need—no matter our status in life—someone whom we can trust enough to be transparent, authentic, and vulnerable. Someone who will reach out to us consistently, who will encourage us, comfort us, laugh with us, and weep with us (Rom.12:10, Eph.4:32, 1 Thess.5:11).

It’s not that there won’t be several people who could do this for you, but without someone specific to take on that responsibility, you may find yourself in a crowded room, with no one. Being that one safe friend doesn’t take an unusual skill set, nor is it someone who has all the answers. It does need to be someone who is a good listener, someone who is caring and empathetic, and someone who understands you and understands the core challenges of life, regardless of the setting (2 Cor.1:4). It’s not an unusual skill set, but neither is it common to everyone.

Love leads gently on.

Don’t assume that people will come knocking at your door to be that one special friend…maybe because they doubt your need or their ability to fill that role. So if you’re looking, what should you look for? What should you expect from that friend? Here are some suggestions:

  1. That one safe friend will be safe (obvious, huh?) and contact you regularly. You will be able to tell your friend the candid, unfiltered truth. This happens through consistent contact, not in a passing Sunday morning “How are you?’” Your friend will not share with others your private conversations without your permission, unless there are special circumstances that involve danger to yourself or others. Choose someone who you know is good at keeping confidences.
  1. That friend will ask questions, lots of questions, starting with “How are you?” and going much further and deeper. The questions will be based on a firm understanding of who you are. Of course your relationship will go both ways, and you will invest in your friend’s life as well.
  1. That friend will pray for you and with you…OFTEN…and consistently direct you to God’s Word. Your friend will know your heart and seek to not give you his or her opinion, but point you to the Word to experience God’s power, promises, and provisions. Your friend will make it a habit to carry you to God in prayer, voicing your needs and concerns.

There are many examples of “that special friend” in the Bible: Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, Paul and Timothy, to name a few. However, the only perfect and greatest friend of believers, who promises to never leave or forsake us, is Jesus Christ. What a friend we have in Jesus!

At Least She’s Not Dead

Maybe you’ve heard the definition of fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. Recently in our home, there’s been a small undercurrent of fear running through me personally. It started about two weeks ago when my wife developed flu-like symptoms. No big deal, right? Now fast-forward two weeks later after a trip to Urgent Care, another to a family doctor, a host of prescribed antibiotics/probiotics, cough syrup with codeine, followed by some X-rays that reveal she now has pneumonia and you can begin to understand my concern.

Let me provide a little more family context. My wife and I have two small, energetic boys. One is five and the other is three. I work full-time, while my wife splits her time working from home and caring for our children. Her illness has been debilitating for her and has crippled our family these last two weeks. However, that’s not the part that has caused fear to swirl around like a deep eddy in the recesses of my mind. It was two comments made on separate occasions by my 5-year-old and my wife.

Referring to my wife’s condition, my son, who was attempting to comfort me, bluntly said, “At least she’s not dead.”

On another occasion, while seeing me near exasperation, my wife asked plainly, “What if I were chronically ill?”

These two statements sat with me for a while. I pondered them. What if either one of them came true at this point in our lives? False Evidence Appearing Real.

My first reaction was to think that there’s no way I could do it. There would be no way for me to carry on without my wife, the mother of my children; she is the glue that holds our home together. However, that’s the flesh talking. God calls us to walk by faith (2 Cor.5:7). We’ve heard it preached that the will of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot sustain you. That sounds good, but it’s not in the Bible. Is there a biblical text supporting this idea? Sure there is.

1 Corinthians 10:13“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

There are a few truths I need to remind myself of from this verse:

  • My temptations (trials) are ordinary, my family is not suffering extraordinarily; every family suffers some illness at times.
  • God is faithful!
  • He will not allow the temptation to overwhelm me. He is sovereign over everything—the trial itself and the degree to which it extends. He knows what my family and I can handle.
  • He promises grace to endure the trial (the way of escape); His grace will sustain me wherever He leads.

Fear crushed by the truth of God’s Word.

Fear in Finances

Have you ever been afraid to obey God? One mark of being a Christian is that we fear God (in that we deeply respect, awe, and know that God is not to be taken lightly or played with). But I am wondering if you have ever been afraid to follow God’s commands to obey Him.

I remember a line from a movie as a youngster: “Humans fear what they do not understand.” So as a young kid, I made up in my mind to always understand everything—therefore I would never be afraid again. Although it helped me somewhat, I am sorry to report that “understanding” alone was not sufficient. I am still afraid of rodents, snakes, spiders, the ocean, roller-coasters, and various other things.

I have heard it said that the only unlearned fear we have as humans is the fear of falling. That is the sense of falling out of the sky and no one to catch you. Every other fear we exhibit as humans is learned behavior, according to some scientist. I can see some validity in this statement. I have witnessed parents laughing with a toddler to teach a toddler not to be afraid of a person or movie. I have witnessed children running away as they follow their parents running away from a “dog.”

Fear, terror, scariness, and being afraid are powerful emotions we face as humans. If we are honest, these emotions dominate our lives more than we are willing to admit. So are you willing to briefly think with me about how fear can dominate the way we handle money?

Because of fear relating to our finances:

  1. We either horde and fill our barns (Luke 12:13-20) or we spend like there’s no tomorrow (Is.56:11-12).
  2. We value riches over wisdom. (1 Kin.3:11-14).
  3. We make plans to gain dishonestly rather than prayer and wisdom-filled planning (Prov.13:11).
  4. We acquiring fiat currency as if it should be the number one priority instead of first seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt.6:33).
  5. We completely miss true life (1 Tim.6:17-19).
  6. We ignore that God is ruler of rich and poor (Prov.22:2).
  7. We separate giving money to the Lord and living righteously before the Lord (Matt.23:23).

I am sure we could list more, which would be a beneficial exercise. And as we list the ways fear leads us to sin concerning our finances, may we began to bring every thought obedient to Christ, so that the fear of the Lord— and not worldly fear—will regulate how we handle finances.

There is a practical wisdom in dieting that says “all types of food, in moderation, are okay.” Perhaps there is a practical wisdom of planning we can apply to our finances; giving to the Lord, savings for retirement and emergencies, paying taxes, and living—being content and having fun with the remainder. Planning out our finances can be frustrating, but I’ll end with words of a radio talk show host: “There’s ultimately only one way to Financial Peace, and that’s to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus!”