This will be the final post of this series on dealing with doubt. What we have learned as we have explored the dilemma of John the baptizer in Matthew 11:2-6 is that many of our doubts arise from flawed expectations and misunderstandings about the nature or purpose of the Lord.
When John asks if Jesus is truly the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus sends word back for John to consider how the work of Jesus truly fulfills those things which Messiah will do when He arrives. Having revealed His identity to John, Jesus ended His reply with a challenge: “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:6).
Reality had not lined up exactly with John’s expectations of a warrior Messiah who would bring in a time of fire and judgment. This presented John with a choice. Would he be offended (the Greek word is literally ‘scandalized’) and doubt Jesus and disbelieve, or would he accept the evidence and embrace Jesus fully as the Messiah.
We do not read anything of John’s reaction, but I surmise that Jesus’ answer was more than enough to satisfy him. Once John’s expectations could be brought in line with reality, once he was able to see, reality turned out to be so much better than what he expected.
Dealing With Doubt
When reality does not meet expectations, doubt often follows. So what can we do?
The main thing we must do is ‘own it’!
We often feel guilty when doubts creep in, but remember what I have already said: doubt does not automatically equal disbelief. Doubt simply means that your expectations are being challenged by reality. If you let your doubt drive you away from God, then there is a problem. But if your doubt drives you to God…that’s good!
So go to God! He is big enough to handle your questions and gracious enough to give an answer.
John did not let his doubts and questions drive him away from belief in Jesus. He went to Jesus and asked Him plainly why reality was not meeting expectation. Jesus did not scold John or belittle his questions. He graciously helped John see his expectations from a different perspective. Once he did, John could see that Jesus met every expectation and more! Happy is the person who can see Jesus for what He is, and does not ‘stumble’ or ‘fall away’ because He isn’t exactly what we thought He would be.
When reality does not meet expectations, doubt often follows. Yet reality often does match our expectations if we are able to see it; and when we can, we will find it to be much better than what we expected.
Having ‘owned’ our doubt, having taken them head on and gone in search of the answers we will find ourselves better equipped to handle future doubts and in a position to walk with others through their doubts as well.
Have these posts answered every question? Obviously not. But I hope they have given you a starting point for your battle to face and overcome doubt.