Doubt and Work Through It

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! (Matthew 28:16-17)

It is not just practical but fashionable to doubt in this nineteenth year of the bewildering two-thousands. Most people do not trust the mainstream media. They are regularly assailed with junk-promises in their inboxes, on their phones, through the talking heads, and are assured easy outcomes in complex situations. It’s correct to doubt some; though, tinged primarily with this attitude, many souls are darkened cynical and overly pessimistic. To praise God becomes monumentally difficult. To doubt His goodness is not only easy but embraced!

In Matthew’s retelling of the risen Christ, the disciples meet with resurrected Jesus for the first time. They’ve heard testimony from eyewitnesses. The rumor mill in Jerusalem is whirling at a fast pitch amidst propaganda and spin. For their two to three day journey, they would have eagerly discussed and debated the stories. And in their own hearts each disciple would have wondered, “is Jesus really alive?”

Seeing isn’t always believing. Doubt can be characterized as being uncertain. It can also mean to waiver in the sense of being double minded or between at least two options. Doubting is often favourable when considering your opportunities. It can be beneficial and empower. But when the attitude is unrestrained it can halt progress and even cause chaos. Think of those on the freeway whom you constantly shout, “PICK A LANE!” Today’s cynics are those people, all the while driving without a care for others, noting the superficial boundaries between lanes as just social constructs and paint.

True, it is just paint, but it’s their for a specific and helpful reason. Most cynics don’t get this. They’ve experienced the break up of the family and the generation gap and fail to see the necessity for restricted choices. It’s all or nothing, and all for selfish, independent, lazy reasons. Today’s cynic is often willing to listen to others, yet only so much to take opinions that will further selfish wants. They are in constant need of safe spaces. This is diametrical of the ancient cynic who would strive to live according to reason and virtue and regularly exercised self-discipline. They willingly suffered independently and against shallow materialism; where as, today’s cynic embraces spiritual apathy and consumerism with a sly wink.

All of this is not to say that we should never doubt. Without doubt scientific breakthroughs and material betterment would have stalled out. We need some doubt in our daily diet, but not a whole lot. Everything in moderation. Wise is the one who doubts, wiser still to work through the doubts. Just as Thomas doubted, so too will you and I. But let’s be like him in that when we do, we’re willing to work through the doubts rather than abandon them. Take up the old and tried discipline of study when you’re unsure of something. Often we’re missing a piece of vital information that can illuminate the truth. Discuss with others as well. Don’t keep it bottled up inside and become pessimistic with woes. Talk about it, and talk about it with God too. Pray in a frank and plain way. God wants to help us sort this stuff out. He’s not grading you on your elegance.

We all have doubts. God won’t condemn you to a molten pit because of them. They, on the other hand, will. Shakespeare once said, “our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt”. Doubt left unchecked turns our confident dispositions fearful with hesitation. We become trapped in illusory predictions where every corner turned is a disaster waiting to happen. This paranoia is different from cynicism and requires encouragement and peace. Jesus says, “the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27b). If you follow Him and even still have some doubts, do not worry. His peace is for you. Go forward in a wise and direct way and He will provide a way.