In a world of turmoil, perplexity, and uncertainty it is easy to experience distrust and skepticism. We doubt the guarantee of the salesman, the promises of the government, and sometimes even the word of our friends and family. We live in a society of doubt, and it is easy to allow our carnal doubts to slip into our spiritual lives because unfortunately the Christian is not exempt from experiencing doubt. We all face doubts as Christians, but how do we overcome our doubts? Is there an easy quick-fix-formula that will annihilate all doubt from our lives? Probably not – but there are steps in God’s Word that can help us overcome our doubt.
First, in order to overcome doubt you must be willing to admit them. What you cannot own up to, you cannot disown in your life. We have to learn to both walk and talk with God honestly. Jesus called John the Baptist, the greatest man ever born of a woman. That’s a strong statement! Seeing it came from Jesus definitely makes it true; yet even John the Baptist had doubts in his life. Actually, John had his own doubts that Jesus really was the Son of God. While in prison John was about to be executed and became offended when Jesus did not come to see him. John sent his disciples to go out to find Jesus and inquire as to whether or not Jesus really was the Messiah. Jesus’ response was astounding! Jesus said, “The dead is raised, the sick is healed, and the lepers are cleansed.”
Jesus did not criticize John but simply said, “John was the greatest man ever born of a woman.” Jesus made this statement after the expression of John’s doubts. We can go on and on throughout the Scriptures to find people whom had doubts, but God still used these individuals to accomplish the work of His Kingdom. Remember David, Job, and Thomas? All of these great men of God expressed their own doubts to God and instead of criticizing them, He began so speak Words over them to ease their doubts. Even while on the earth as a man, Jesus never criticized those individuals with doubts — in fact He seemed to be gravitated towards them!
The second thing we must do to overcome our doubt is to “doubt our doubt.” Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” We need to practice the act of doubting our doubts. Our understanding tends to be contrary to God’s way of thinking – that is one of the traits that makes us human. When we lean on our own understanding, we give room for doubt to come into our lives. We cannot wait until all of our doubts are resolved before we obey. We must obey in faith and God will meet us on the way—in the place of action.
To overcome our doubts we need to admit our doubts, doubt our doubts and finally “Use What You Have.” God has placed inside of all of us both the ability and the faith to face anything in our lives. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” We may just have a small faith but we need to use that small faith that we have to remove our doubt! The Bible says that we’ve all been dealt a measure of faith. In Mark chapter nine, a man came to Jesus desiring Him to heal his son. Jesus said, “If you can believe, I will heal him.” The father replied to Jesus, “I’ve heard about you and how you raise the dead, and heal the sick,” but what the father says next is interesting; he said, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.”
Have you ever been there? Have you ever believed God for something great yet was scared at the same time? You say, “Lord, I want to make this financial commitment — but I’m fearful.” You say, “Lord, I want to do this idea you gave me — but I’m terrified.” The reality of life begins to mess with our faith. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is obedience in spite of fear. All through Scripture the people of God had fears! They stepped out in the little faith they had and faced them. The father requesting healing for his son was filled with faith, but had legitimate doubts is what he was dealing with! He was honest with his doubts and came to Jesus in spite of them and His son was healed at the hand of Jesus.
The antidote to doubt is FAITH. In studying God’s Word, I have found there to be three levels of faith. First of all, there is the level of no faith. No faith does not necessarily mean the absence of faith: It means a faith that is not being used or faith that is inactive! According to Romans 12 “every person has been dealt a measure of faith.” Jesus even asked the disciples “How is it that you have no faith?” Jesus was not saying they had no faith. He was simply asking, “Why don’t you use your faith?” Faith is designed to be active in our lives. That’s why the scriptures says, “Faith without works is dead.”
The second level of faith is “Little Faith.” Little is not a description of the size of our faith. Remember Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water? It took an incredible amount of faith to walk on the water, but Peter began to sink when he focused on the waves and boisterous winds. Jesus picks Peter up! Jesus said, “O’ you of little faith!” He was not talking about size of Peter’s faith but Jesus was talking about duration of it! Literally, it should read this way: “O you of such a short burst of faith.” An example of a short burst of faith is being on fire for God today but next week, the fire is gone. It may not leave in a week, but we can let our passion for God leave us over time! Satan uses distractions to steal our focus, to make us doubt! How do we know what our focus really is? What you focus on is what you give your energy to.
Finally there is “great faith.” Great faith is the ability to take God as His word and to believe that what God has said or promised will come to pass. Great faith is the opposite of little faith. It’s not about the size of the faith as much as it is about the duration of your faith. Jesus regarded the Centurion as a man of “great faith” because he took Jesus at His Word to heal his child.
So, is there a magic solution of overcome our doubts? No. We will always be tempted to doubt, but by the power of God’s Word, Holy Spirit, and following the examples of those great men of God in the Scriptures, we can overcome those doubts. Be honest with God about your doubts, lean to the understanding of God, and use what God has already placed inside of you. I challenge you to be consistent in your walk with God by keeping your passion alive and making your faith active. Great Faith can still have doubts! It’s not about the size of our faith but about its duration over time. That is when faith really begins to work in our lives.
Rev. Scotty Dingess is pastor of West Logan Church of God and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.