Doubt: Helpful or harmful?
Are some types of doubt better than others?
If you’re reading this article, your current sin struggles are probably not what the world calls horrible. In fact, it’s not uncommon to even receive applause and worldly honor for the very produce of the roots God is pressing you to dig up.
Sin doesn’t happen because we don’t know the right thing to do. Sin happens because we don’t want to do that right thing.
The enemy is so conniving, the majority of the guilt you may be carrying today are for sins you’ve not actually committed! Meanwhile, the most of us are missing the plenty small ones which can fester into ‘horrible.’ There are scads of examples of such worry and self-concern but this article is dedicated to just one.
Doubt: a sin?
Doubt is as timeless as it is universal. From the first who scoffed at Noah’s warning of rain, to the boy on the playground who claims he’s fastest in his class. I doubt it. See, when doubt floods, and from the mind to heart to soul, it isn’t God who has changed. It’s us.
The enemy wants us to look to ourselves for strength; to seek first, exult, and proclaim ‘me,’ instead of God. Here’s why the most passionate, authentic, and influential ambassadors of God are the most cautious, sin-fleeing kind. They are also the greatest victims of doubt.
Deep down, we know when we hear but care not to listen; when we speak Truth but wonder if we believe it, ourselves. We know when we either parts or all of Christ, but keep it to ourselves feeling ashamed and prone to hide. Whenever our questioning leads to isolating, we are at the most common of deadly intersections. It’s a point of decision. We stand alone on this corner forgetting one holy Friend and we begin to wonder if Doubt’s it.
Neither you nor I have fingers and toes enough to count the times our confidence in Christ flips. And in just one day! We’re strong like Peter one minute, then weak like - well, Peter, the next. We’re assured of God’s love one second, then all hope’s lost because we failed an exam. From full of faith and driven to prayer, to full of fear and driven to tears, like the waves of the sea, says James, is the doubt of those who base belief on the seen. It’s wobbly.
If Doubt had a wardrobe, it would consist of two shirts. One would say “Harmful” and the other, “Helpful.” Wearing Harmful, Doubt would be careless. He’d tell you to, “Look down. Be ashamed.” He might even hold you back. Wearing Helpful, however, Doubt would be considerate. He’d say, “Look up. Keep going!” He might even hold you close.
When you read the words, “tough teacher,” there is probably a face or two which comes to mind. A teacher is tough for one of two reasons. Either the person acts unkind and uses threat to elicit hard work or, they’ve incredibly high expectations and relentlessly push. The first kind is harmful. The latter, like it or not, is helpful. This teacher pushes us because he/she knows we can succeed beyond what we believe.
Jesus is not only the greatest teacher, He’s the toughest! Like the teacher who assigns absurd assignments and calls us to the dreadfully frightful, God’s greatest disciplines are always for our good. Doubt is a great example. At first, “You’ve got the toughest teacher ever!” doesn’t sound like good news. Similarly, “I’m doubting God!” isn’t something a Christian can’t wait to announce. Doubting God, faith, and questioning doesn’t sound like a good thing, but it can be!
What you choose to do with your doubt changes everything.
Harmful or helpful?
Think of a current doubt or past season of disbelief. Use the following questions to determine whether the doubt is harmful or helpful.
- Do you care that you’re doubting God? Does it bother you? Or, whatever?
- Are you looking to the Word, God’s character, and how He’s made you, for the answers? Or, are you looking at your ability, possessions and human possibility?
- Will you trust God even if your doubt cannot be resolved completely? Or, will you stop seeking altogether? Well, if God wants me to believe, He’ll show up?
It is tempting to want to remove all doubt and then go to God. However, it must be the other way around. By faith, we go to God. By hoping in the unseen, and steadily, God Himself is our Answer. Whether quiet prayer, the Word, or true community, when we experience God’s love and spend time with this Friend, rest assured - doubt drowns in Presence.
If your doubt propels and you crave God’s face and voice, you’ve got some helpful, holy doubt. Keep persevering! Investigate, pray, and talk to others whom are confident in the areas you’re unsure. God honors those who seek Him.
If your doubt isn’t a bother and you couldn't care less about more of Christ, your doubt is hands-down harmful. Spend time with those who are persevering. Be honest about your apathy. God’s Word promises He will not lose even one. God is not chiding. God’s inviting you.
The Bible is littered with persons who doubt. Heap them together, and you’ll discover we’ve more examples of doubt among those closest to Jesus, than those faraway.
As you read the following verses, ask:
Who is doubting what? Can I relate? What is Jesus’ response?
Matthew 8:25, 26; Matthew 14:29-31; John 11:32; John 20:27