Faith, Perspective, Trusting God

Doubt: When We Have to See

@JeanneTakenaka

Confession time: I’ve always looked down on the disciple Thomas. 

The doubter.

The unbeliever.

But after reading through John 20 recently, my regard for him has changed.

When the other disciples saw Jesus, talked with Him, ate with Him . . . Thomas was missing in action.

Then, when the other disciples declared they’d seen Jesus—alive—he poo-poohed them, declaring he’d only believe if he could put his fingers in Jesus’ nail wounds, in the slice in His side.

Imagine how isolating that following week must have been for Thomas. All the other disciples must’ve been talking about Jesus, wondering when they would see Him again . . . and perhaps Thomas stood off to the side, shaking his head at their crazy words. Because, of course, no one can raise himself from the dead.

Did he isolate himself from those crazy men he’d spent three years with? Did he disdain their pity because he just didn’t know what he didn’t know?

How did he feel and respond knowing he didn’t believe the same as the other disciples?

His doubting spirit still pervades today’s society, even in churches. Thomas wasn’t the originator of doubt, but his story is one of the most well-known in the Bible.

It took Jesus’ gentle chastening of him because of his unbelief. 

It took the Savior holding out his nail-scarred wrist for Thomas . . . 

. . . Jesus almost demanding that Thomas place his hand in the wound on His abdomen, just below His heart.

I wonder if Thomas was shamed by his unbelief, if he felt horrible for not believing the other disciples?

But . . . this:

Once Thomas believed, he was transformed. He shared the gospel powerfully in other lands . . . because he believed.

Yes, Jesus had to show Thomas His wounds so that the apostle would believe. Jesus blessed those who believed without needing physical proof.

And yet . . . 

Jesus came after Thomas. He showed the man beyond a doubt that He was, indeed, very much alive. And when Thomas believed, he called Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

He was all in for his Lord.

This is what Thomas needed so he’d be prepared to carry out the work Jesus had for him. 

Once he believed, it’s said Thomas traveled to the Far East and shared the gospel, as far away as India. He died a martyr’s death. He may have been the first one who brought the gospel of peace to that part of the world.

And none of it would have happened had Jesus not met Thomas in his place of doubt.

I love that our Lord loves us enough to meet us where we are, to chasten us when needed, and to affirm His faithfulness and love for us.

Let’s be honest. We’ve all walked through (or are walking through) seasons of doubt. When we expected God to show up in a hard circumstance in our lives and He didn’t? That encourages doubt.

When we’ve yearned for something, prayed earnestly for it, and God delays answering? Doubt steps in to discourage and cause us to distance ourselves from our Father.

When circumstances from all areas of our lives continue to pile onto our emotional/spiritual shoulders, we feel the weight of uncertainty. We attempt to stand up under all of them, but the burden bears down hard.

There are times when we’re disappointed in how God handles a situation that’s close to our hearts. This fuels doubt.

But Jesus has a way of meeting each of us in that place. He loves His own. And even though we doubt, His love remains steadfast.

Thomas was given evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. 

I wonder if, sometimes, we need to ask for His reassurance that He is with us? He holds us in the palm of His hands. 

Nothing slips into our lives without first being filtered through the Father’s love.

But, when we doubt, we need to bring that to Him, confess it. And trust that He will show up.

When God reminds us of His faithfulness, doubt weakens as confidence in Jesus grows. He  can use our doubting seasons to draw us into deeper relationship with Him, to equip us for callings He has or will give us, and to remind us of just how much He loves us.

Thomas received the moniker “Doubting Thomas” but, I think he was faithful to Jesus, even in his uncertainty.

What about you? When has doubt crippled you in your walk with Jesus? How do you overcome doubt?

Click to Tweet: And none of it would have happened had Jesus not met Thomas in his place of doubt

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory

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32 thoughts on “Doubt: When We Have to See”

  1. Outstanding post, Jeanne, and so very heartfelt. And I love the pictures.

    When I walked a world so wide
    there was something I was well-without;
    shackled firmly to my pride,
    sometimes in error but not in doubt.
    Now that life has rearranged
    and the old’s been tossed beneath the bus
    I’d like to say that I have changed
    but I’m still that old arrogant cuss.
    I never felt I wasn’t special
    or that I would have to try
    to prove to God my honest mettle;
    I’d just look Him in the eye.
    When I get there…please don’t laugh…
    He’s gonna want my autograph.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, this was such a truth-filled poem. Just one thought, if God asks for your autograph, it’ll be to humor you. 😉 We all do have that pride in one or more areas of our hearts. It’s a hard thing to break. Circling back around to doubt, I think sometimes I doubt when I have to give up my pride to believe something God says.

      I’m praying for you, friend.

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  2. I loved this, Jeanne. I believe God understands the very human reaction of doubt. Your post reminded me of this Madeline L’Engle quote: “Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.”

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    1. I believe you’re right, Laurie. God knows and understands the human heart. I’m thankful for His grace during some of my doubting times. I loved that Madeline L’Engle quote you shared. There’s so much truth in it. You’ve had me thinking all day.

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  3. I’m with you in this re-examination of doubt. When something is important, we lean into it with all our thinking, and God does tell us to love him with our whole mind. I believe He is way more patient with our questions than we are.

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    1. Amen! God is definitely more patient with my questions than I am. I just want to know the answers already! But, when I lean into the Lord, and earnestly seek him for an answer, that’s when doubt is dislodged in my mind and I find it easier to just trust Him with the question.

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  4. Thomas’ story reminds me that Jesus did not leave Thomas behind. He sought Him out to help him with his doubt. What a powerful message! When in my doubt, I can trust that God will show Himself when willing to be reminded of what He has done and touch His wounds. Great post!

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    1. Yes, Lynn. Jesus is so patient, isn’t He?? I’m thankful that God works with us in the midst of our doubt as well. I’m thinking we do have to have a heart that earnestly wants to hear His heart about our area of doubt. What do you think?

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  5. Wonderful truths that we struggle with daily due to a world that demands physical evidence with no clue what faith and trust in a loving God is all about. I think at times we all are a bit like Thomas but may we always remember his witness once he believed and move ourselves onward with our loving God.

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    1. Yes, Anita. We do live in a world that demands physical evidence before belief. It’s so contrary to faith. I agree with your thoughts about how we are all at least a little bit like Thomas. Thank goodness we don’t have to stay in a place of doubting!

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  6. Lovely pictures. I head this story again after Easter and wondered if any of the other disciples would have doubted if they had not seen Jesus with their own eyes. If they would have been like Thomas who was a bit skeptical. It seems when the women went to the tomb and saw that Jesus was no longer there and ran to tell the disciples, they didn’t believe the ladies at first and ran to the tomb to see this with their own eyes. Ah, but like you said, Thomas is all of us at different times. Maybe that is why I feel he gets such a bad rap and feel sorry for him. Because I know I would have been skeptical if I had not been with the others and seen Jesus for myself.

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    1. Theresa, I’ve never thought of the idea that maybe others of the disciples would have struggled with doubt if they hadn’t actually seen Jesus in the room that day. I agree with you. Thomas does get a bad rap. I love when God opens our eyes to something we’ve always thought about a story or a person in the Bible.

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  7. Jeanne,
    Terrific post! I have always kind of identified with Thomas. I can relate to the Father who said, “I believe; help my unbelief.” I used to get down on myself for my doubts – as if I weren’t being a devout follower, But, God…I believe God can take anything we throw at Him, turn it around, and use it to take us deeper in our faith if we are willing. Sure, the enemy wants to use doubt to pull us away, but I have experienced my questioning lead me to diving further into His Word and praying that He would calm my doubts. Just like how Jesus used Thomas’ doubts to transform his life and faith, He can do the same with us today. Loved this!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, you bring up so many great thoughts. I think there’s a segment of Christianity that looks down on those who doubt, or question. But, I think God is honored when we seek Him more so we can understand. I love how you use those doubting/questioning seasons to dig deeper into His word and to seek Him in prayer. You are an inspiration, my friend. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  8. “Jesus came after Thomas.” Wow, Jeanne. That is such a comforting sentence! I’m with you … I think Thomas gets a bad rap. Maybe instead of focusing on his doubt, we could focus on his honesty, and perhaps his boldness in expressing it. In his grief, he sort of bared his soul, and Jesus wasn’t deterred by that a bit. Hugs, friend!

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    1. Lois, I am thankful Jesus comes after each one of us. I like your perspective of focusing on Thomas’ honesty. And, actually, I like all your thoughts here. I’m grateful Jesus is a safe place for us to bare our souls, our questions. Praying for you, friend!

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  9. It’s such a comforting thought that Jesus sought out Thomas, Jeanne. Jesus is so patient with us! Even in the doubting seasons, His love remains steadfast. Oh, how I love that! And the truth that “Nothing slips into our lives without first being filtered through the Father’s love.” Thank you for this beautiful encouragement! Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Yes, Trudy. Jesus is SO patient with us! I am thankful that God knows each thing that slips into our lives. Those situations are never random, though they sometimes feel like it. And, they never have to be wasted. I’m so glad this post spoke to you. 🙂

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  10. I think sometimes it’s good to “doubt” or question what we believe, then we can give a good answer when someone asks why. The Bible says taste and see – we are not expected to blindly follow, He will give the assurance that we need. Although, we also need to have faith. Great post, love seeing more pictures from your trip. 8)

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    1. I like your perspective, Debra Jean. Doubting isn’t always a “bad” thing. And I like your thought that, when we question and search for the answer, we are more confident in what we believe. I hadn’t thought about “taste and see” from this perspective before. Thank you for offering it! I so appreciate you stopping by!

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  11. Outstanding insight, Jeanne! I love what you wrote about how “none of it would have happened had Jesus not met Thomas in his place of doubt.” Amen. God can handle our doubt… He’s all-powerful!

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  12. I used to think that Doubting Thomas was a distant relation … but that has changed over time. In this season, my faith seems stronger, less complex.

    Jesus only.

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    1. I grinned when I read your comment, Linda. I think he might be a distant cousin of mine too. 🙂 I’m encouraged that God works with us, even in our doubt, to help us see Him in the midst of every situation we walk through.

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  13. Thank you, Jeanne, for this beautiful reminder. God sees and knows and in His gentleness restores us back to Himself. I am grateful we only pass through that valley of doubt and can trust His loving hand to lead us all the way there. I appreciate you and your heart for Him. Keep going! Let your Light so shine before man, dear one 🙂

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  14. Jeanne, you gave me goose bumps. Thank you! Just beautiful. You were in this place. I’m so glad you got to go. Yes, we’ve all doubted. You know it must make God so happy when we say, “Show me.” Because you know He’s more than happy to show us His glory, and He always does in one way or another. And I’m sorry I’ve been so late to show up lately. My life has been a crazy storm lately, but it’s summer time … hallelujah!! ❤

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    1. Shelli, it was truly amazing to be in those places up close and personal. I am thankful God is big enough to handle our questions, our doubts. He does show His glory, doesn’t He? No need to apologize for not being around. I know crazy lives. Believe me. I’m saying a prayer for you today, my friend. Sending you a hug!

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  15. “There are times when we’re disappointed in how God handles a situation that’s close to our hearts. This fuels doubt.” I love that – it’s so real and the whole post is such a comfort to me. Truly a word in season for many. Thanks Jeanne.

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