All of us face times of doubt. We doubt our own abilities, we doubt other people’s intentions and sincerity, and at times, we even doubt God. Contrary to what you may have heard, God is not put off by our doubts. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with our doubts. God’s Word provides multiple examples of people doubting and the way that God dissuaded those fears.
Doubt is a common emotion. For instance, if you’ve ever applied for a new job, you may have doubted your ability to actually impress the interviewer, or even your ability to do the job once you’ve obtained it. Perhaps you’ve approached your relationships with others through the lens of doubt, wondering if they’re really as sincere as they claim to be. You may even be able to look at times in your life where you’ve doubted God! Contrary to what you may have heard, those feelings of doubt do not cause God to turn His back on you.
The Bible even tells the story of one of the most righteous people who ever lived experiencing doubt. In Matthew 11:3, John the Baptist, the man who baptized Jesus, the man who eventually lost his life for the sake of the Gospel, asked Jesus “are you the Promised One, or should we look for another?” If you’ve experienced some doubt in your spiritual life, rest in the fact that you’re in some pretty good company!
Our response to that doubt is what God is looking for. He is not ashamed of us when we doubt. He is not repelled by our weak moments. Instead, He wants us to take a Biblical approach to those doubts, allowing God to minister to us, even when we’re not sure about what’s going to happen next.
What is Doubt?
James 1:6-8 (TPT)
Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. Can you really expect to receive anything form the Lord when you’re in that condition?
James doesn’t hold back when discussing the dangers of doubt. However, for the sake of this discussion, we’re going to first understand what doubt it. Doubt doesn’t simply mean that you don’t think God is going to do what you’ve asked Him to do. Doubt doesn’t even mean that you don’t think God is capable of doing what you’ve asked Him to do. Instead, James paints a picture of doubt that is similar to a ship being caught in some rough waves and being tossed by the wind.
Most of us experience doubt that looks like this. We don’t truly believe that God doesn’t care about our requests. We certainly don’t believe that God isn’t capable of doing anything that we ask Him. Instead, we believe in one moment, and then lose that belief in the next.
Doubt usually leaves us wavering. We go from extreme spiritual highs to extreme spiritual lows in a matter of moments. Doubt isn’t necessarily a lack of belief. Instead, it is more a condition in which we go back and forth. When you truly know what doubt is and how to recognize it, you can take a healthy approach to overcoming doubt, and putting yourself on a sure foundation.
How do You Deal with Doubt?
To better understand how to deal with doubt, we’re going to look at a Psalm of David in two parts.
Psalm 13:1-2 (TPT)
I’m hurting Lord-will you forget me forever? How much longer, Lord? Will you look the other way when I’m in need? How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. So how much longer will my enemy have the upper hand? It’s been long enough!
Doubt often leaves us ashamed. We know that we’re supposed to fully trust God to handle all of our situations, so when doubt creeps in, we try to ignore it. We subscribe to the old “out of sight, out of mind” ideology, and we think if we just ignore our doubt, it will eventually go away. As is the case with most of our emotions that we try to stifle, that’s not only an unhealthy approach to take to doubt, but it also doesn’t really work.
Instead, the first step to dealing with your doubt is to acknowledge it. Not only should you acknowledge it to yourself, but you should also go ahead and acknowledge it to God. Remember, He knows your thoughts. He knows your feelings better than you know them yourself. David, the man who God selected to be king over His people, experienced a time of doubt and He told God about them. However, later on in the Psalm, he took a strategic approach to stifling those doubts.
Psalm 13:5-6 (TPT)
Lord, I have always trusted in your kindness, so answer me. I will yet celebrate with passion and joy when your salvation lifts me up. I will sing my song of joy to you, the Most High, for in all of this you have strengthened my soul. My enemies say that I have no Savior, but I know that I have one in you!
David reminded Himself of the goodness of God. David continued to sing a song of joy, even in the face of doubt. How was he able to do that? Because he reminded himself that he had “always trusted” in God’s kindness.
One of the most effective ways to deal with doubt is to remind yourself of the goodness of God that you’ve seen in your own life.
Don’t Let Doubt Derail You
Matthew 28:16-17 (TPT)
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples heard the wonderful news from the women and left for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. The moment they saw him, they worshiped him, but some still had lingering doubts.
These verses, which take place at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, recount the events that happened after the resurrection of Christ. The women who had originally found the empty tomb and interacted with Christ were there, and they were joined by the eleven remaining disciples. All of the disciples worshiped the risen Christ, but “some still had lingering doubts.”
Undoubtedly, Jesus knew about these doubts. Remember, the Gospel accounts are full of examples of Jesus knowing what other people were thinking and feeling, even when they didn’t verbalize it. The verses that follow the disciples’ doubt are known as the Great Commission. Jesus told the disciples exactly what He wanted them to do after He returned to Heaven.
The doubting disciples had a choice to make in this moment. Would they let their doubt derail them form their purpose? Obviously, when we read the Book of Acts, we find out that they didn’t. Instead, they pushed through those doubts and allowed their belief to drive them.
When we have times of doubt, we’re faced with the same options. We can allow those doubts to derail us. We can allow doubt to take control of our lives and leave us standing on the sidelines. However, we can follow the disciples’ example, and push through our doubt while continuing to pursue God’s divine purpose for our lives.
A Closing Prayer:
God, You already know the doubt that I’m feeling. Please, help me to recognize my own doubts and put them under submission. Give me the strength and the courage to acknowledge my doubts not only to You, but also to myself. Remind me of the times in my life where I’ve seen Your goodness. Let me rest in Your faithfulness. Finally, help me to prevent doubt from derailing my life. I know that You have a purpose, and I will push through my doubts to pursue it. In Christ’s name I ask these things, Amen.