At some point all believers struggle with doubts in their faith. If you are honest enough to recognize this you will find yourself in good company. John the Baptist, the cousin and forerunner of Jesus struggled with doubts. He had famously proclaimed the Jesus was the Messiah but then later became a little confused and asked Jesus "are you the One who was to come or should we expect someone else." That is a powerful question if you think about it. For some it is so very troubling to have someone of John's stature to have such deep and serious doubts. We can be critical or identify ourselves with John. One of Jesus disciples, Thomas the twin, has had the unfortunate nickname stick with him, "doubting Thomas." Thomas was not known as a doubter prior to this. In fact he showed great faith and boldness when the other disciples attempted to steer Jesus away from a visit to Judea. Thomas encouraged others to follow Jesus to Judea, even if it meant their death. Thomas has become popular for his doubts based around the resurrection of Jesus. The account in John 20 tells us that the other disciples had a joyous visit from the Lord in His resurrected body that gave them great peace and comfort. Thomas, wasn't there, he missed it. When the others report to Thomas what they had experienced, Thomas claims he will not believe it until he sees Him and touches Him.
Why such doubt from one that believes in Jesus? Possibly it was the realist in Thomas that didn't want to give himself up to a false hope. We have all been burned from hope filled promises coming up empty and Thomas didn't want to go down that road. He needed more evidence. Really, all Thomas was asking for was the same evidence that was presented to the other disciples. Perhaps we doubt at times because we are realist.
Sometimes doubt is a sign that deeper faith is on the horizon. It has been said that truth is never so strongly believed as the one which you have doubted. The greatest doubters often become the greatest believers. While Thomas is in the midst of doubt, he is about to make one of the clearest and boldest declarations of confident faith once He encounters Jesus himself.
Doubt can also be a symptom of discouragement or depression. During those seasons of life I am prone to doubt everything, well most everything. I am a discouraged Capitals hockey fan. At this writing the Capitals just lost game 2 of the playoffs to their rival the Penguins. After being the best team in hockey again it looks like the Capitals will not advance past the second round.....ever....again. They will never beat the Penguins. That is the reality to me. Now I hope to update this post next week with an incredible story of how I was wrong and discouragement just caused me to doubt the ability of the caps to come back and win. You can tell by the words of Thomas in John 20:25 that he is discouraged and upset. He missed the first meeting and for some reason was off by himself, which doesn't help our depression.
Ultimately I believe we doubt because we need an encounter with Jesus. Thomas missed the first encounter with the others. One week later on the second Sunday after His resurrection Thomas gets his chance. Jesus burst into the room with a message of peace and then turns right to Thomas with an invitation to look at Him and His scars and reach for them. Once the request of Thomas is fulfilled Jesus instructs him to believe....and believe He did. Thomas declares Jesus to be both his Lord and God. This is the highest praise for Jesus, to recognize Him for who He is, Lord and God. Are you struggling with doubts? Maybe it's time for an encounter with Jesus. Meet with Him daily in the Word and prayer, encounter Him in worship regularly with your church and His followers. See your doubts fortified in faith!