“Sometimes, I question God. Sometimes, I doubt that God is even there and I feel so bad about it.”
I listened as my well-respected friend in ministry poured out his heart. He was going through a tough time and needed a safe place to share his troubled faith.
Sam was always the one with the answers. He preached every Sunday, taught Bible study every Wednesday and did everything in between. During funerals, he provided strength for grieving families. On numerous occasions, he served as a refuge of God to people who needed the assurance of divine presence. He was and is the “go to” person for anyone who needs a Word from God.
Yet in this moment, away from the traditional sanctity of the altar and the pulpit, Sam confessed that he struggled with doubt. Through tears of pain, he described nights when he considered walking away from his vocation only to wake up realizing that he had too much faith to quit. He felt like he didn’t have enough faith to believe everything, but he had too much faith to believe nothing. He was caught in a quandary between doubt and belief.
When you think about it, we will all find ourselves at the crossroads between doubt and belief when it comes to faith in God. In fact, many people begin their faith journeys at this very intercession. Yet, somewhere along the road, we start believing that doubt has no place in a true relationship with God. We buy in to the notion that once you believe that Jesus died for you, you are supposed to believe everything without an inkling of doubt.
Somewhere along the journey of Christianity, we subject ourselves to always trusting, always believing, never questioning and leaving no room in our lives for doubt. As a result, we become intolerant of those who have questions and shun anyone who expresses doubt.
The story of Thomas, affectionately referred to as “doubting Thomas,” serves as a refreshing reminder of what God does in the face of our doubt. John tells us that Thomas was the one who said, “If I don't see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25, HCSB).
God could have easily put this doubter out of the sacred circle of disciples. He had power to remove Thomas from the story and turn him into a lesson of what happens to those who dare question the Lord. But he didn’t.
Instead of shunning or dismissing the doubting disciple, Jesus embraced him. In fact, Jesus boldly gave Thomas the evidence he was looking for. Rattled with doubt and probably quaking with fear, Thomas had the opportunity to do what none of the other disciples did: he touched the wounds of Jesus. Instead of pushing the doubter away, Jesus drew him in closer.
Doubt can be a doorway to revelation. Our questions can be the foundation for answers we never expected from God. When we bring our doubts to God, His grace will draw us in and allow us to experience the assurance of His presence.
Whatever doubts, fears, or questions you may have, let them drive you closer to God. He is not afraid of your questions and, in fact, He welcomes them. As Jesus did for Thomas and Sam, he will do for you as well by drawing you into His embrace. Don’t be afraid. Doubters are welcome with God.
The Rev. Nicole Martin is executive minister at The Park Church.