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June 24, 2014

The Benefit of Doubt

“I won’t believe it unless I see ….” John 20:25b (NLT)

Doubting Thomas! Have you ever doubted like Thomas? I have. In fact, I’ve had many doubts throughout my faith journey and have come to respect Thomas for his doubts. That may sound strange for a pastor; but if we’re honest, I think most of us would admit we wrestle with doubts. We often don’t admit those secret doubts that haunt us for fear of not appearing spiritual. The problem with keeping your doubts secret is that silent doubts rarely get answers. I’m thankful Thomas expressed his doubts. That tells me that the disciples were real; and an authentic faith community is a safe place to express your doubts. Some people need to doubt before they believe. If doubt leads you to questions, and those questions lead to answers, and if you accept those answers, then your doubt has been productive! It’s when you allow your doubt to lead to stubborn disbelief and become prideful that doubt harms faith. Doubting doesn’t mean that an answer doesn’t exist. It just means you haven’t found it yet. When you doubt, don’t stop there and conclude there is no way of knowing. Let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer. Thomas’ doubts were resolved when He personally encountered the risen Christ. No one can live on the faith of someone else. It wasn’t enough for Thomas that the other disciples had seen Jesus. He needed an encounter of his own with Christ. You and I need our own personal encounter with Jesus as well. Though we may not see Him in His physical form as Thomas did, we can still believe! That’s why Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” (John 20:29 NLT) Doubting may be your way of responding, but it doesn’t have to be your way of life. Doubt should encourage rethinking. It was never meant to be a permanent lifestyle. When you experience doubt, do what Thomas did. He didn’t stay in his doubt. He allowed Jesus to bring him to belief.