The Value of Doubt

“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him – but some of them doubted!” (Matthew 28:17 NLT)

There are times in our walk with Jesus when what we see with our eyes doesn’t correlate with what we “see” with our mind. I think of the time after Corrie ten Boom had been freed from her Nazi captors. Following the delivery of a powerful message from the Lord, she stood at the front of the room to greet those who were present.

At one point the man whose tortuous and ruthless, treatment resulted in the death of many in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, including Corrie’s sister Betsie, stood before her with outstretched hand. In that split second Corrie doubted she could respond to this man’s desire to shake her hand. He didn’t recognize her, but she surely recognized him, not only his face, but also his responsibility for the horrible memories she had while under his vicious treatment.

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What would you have done in her shoes? Would the grace and mercy of God have given you cause to overcome your doubt and be Jesus to this man who had caused her such harm? Corrie ultimately responded graciously and with kindness, but it causes me to think of the times under much less severe circumstances when I haven’t been so loving.

We often think of doubt as being a crisis of faith which results in unbelief or a denial of something we profess to believe, and it can certainly mean that. But to me the value of doubt is that it gives rise to an opportunity for us to actually strengthen our faith by researching and verifying the validity of that which we are questioning.

Think of Jesus’ response to Thomas after Jesus’ resurrection. When I first read the verse above regarding the first time the disciples saw Jesus alive after His resurrection, I was aghast! “How could they have possibly doubted what had happened?” Then it occurred to me, how would I respond if someone I’d known and loved and knew had died, stood before me alive?

While your eyes may be “seeing,” the mind is struggling to catch up. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Jesus verified the validity of that kind of honest “doubt” when He said to Thomas in John 20:26: “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

Oswald Chambers wrote: “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.” Jesus doesn’t seek to quiet our legitimate doubts when we’re sincerely struggling to understand something that will ultimately lead us into deeper, more refined and useful faith. No human being, living or dead, except the Lord Jesus Himself, understands the depths of meaning of everything Jesus said, did, and is.

Following Jesus is a journey that, hopefully, is nearly continually informing, enlightening, training, encouraging, strengthening, enabling, teaching, and refining us in our walk with Him. We don’t follow out of “blind” faith, but informed and intelligent faith. Yes, of course, there are things we may not fully see or understand, that, in the process of our following, cause us a measure of doubt or cause us to have questions with which we wrestle.

The issue isn’t that we have doubts or questions, it’s that in the midst of those we continue to follow faithfully, confident that one day, in much the same way as He answered Thomas’ “doubt,” He will stand before us and clear our heart and mind of every question, every doubt.

Ideally, the value of our doubt will result in the deepening of our faith and in greater effectiveness in our service to our Savior.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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