When You Doubt Others

Contrary to what some may tell you, there can be a silver lining to the dark clouds of doubt. “Just take it by faith,” we are often told, but there are situations where doubting what you are uncertain of results in a far more positive faith in the long run than to blindly accept something. Doubt causes you to dig deep, to search for truth, to compare what you have been told with what the Bible really says. There is a positive side to doubt. While some never confront their doubts, others face them and end up being better because of it, much better.

Lew Wallace was a doubter who questioned the claims of Jesus Christ and set out to prove that his doubts were founded in fact. Wallace, then Governor of the State of Kansas, had been challenged by his agnostic friend Robert Ingersol to write a book picturing Christ as the phony which Ingersol believed Him to be. But most of Wallace’s doubts were based on “hearsay,” second-hand evidence. And he set out to find out for himself who Jesus really was.

He began reading the Gospels, and by the time he got to the Gospel of John, his doubts had begun to fade. With the Centurion who stood at the foot of the cross, Wallace cried out, “Surely this was the Son of God!” His doubts faded, and he began to write, giving us the book, Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ. From Wallace’s book came one of the greatest movies ever produced, Ben Hur.

Even those who were contemporaries of Jesus Christ had their doubts. But instead of reproving them, Jesus rewarded them. Thomas, of course, was the foremost skeptic of the twelve who walked with Jesus. “I’ve got to see for myself,” was his attitude. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25). Talk about skepticism!

Having confronted his doubts, Thomas found the truth. The result: According to tradition, his faith became so rock-solid that he spent the rest of his life proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel and died in India as a martyr.

Even John the Baptist, the one who baptized Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, struggled with doubt as he languished in prison. Cut off from contact with Jesus, battling depression, John wondered if Jesus was the Messiah. To settle those nagging doubts, in the words of Scripture, “he sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’” And what happened? “When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’“ (Luke 7:20).

Confrontation with truth is something which can be positive, beneficial to those who come with an open mind. Jesus said, “…If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17). For those who confront doubts with an open mind, having made the decision to accept truth, the search is a rewarding experience. “The truth will set you free,” said Jesus (John 8:32).

A closing thought, a kind of disclaimer which you need to note. There are two kinds of doubt: honest doubt, and confirmed unbelief, the kind that refuses to accept any evidence. For those who refuse to accept truth, there is little hope; but for the honest doubter, great gain can come. Long ago, God gave a promise which is yet true: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

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