Peter hopped out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus. But the waves were high and it was dark in those predawn hours. Peter looked around and started to sink. “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt” (Matthew 14:31)? If it were anyone but Jesus the answer would be, “Uh. . . have you looked around us?” Let’s be honest, it is a little easier to side with Peter on this one!
James wrote to his church saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5–8).” Is there such a thing as a single-minded man? Is there ever a prayer that God can answer, if our prayers require zero doubting?
Gideon was allowed to put out a fleece to help him with his doubts. Does that still work for us today? I’ve been teaching and studying Scripture for a long time now. I know God is real. I know the Bible is the truth. I believe God can do anything. And I also doubt sometimes. Is it realistic to think we can live and pray without doubt? Was James writing a command or just setting the standards high?
Why do we doubt the God of the universe? Why do we doubt God loves us? Why do we doubt that our prayers will be answered? The basic answer to those questions is an oxymoron. We doubt because we don’t think we are worthy and because we think we are quite capable of handling life ourselves. For example:
— Why do we doubt the God of the universe? Because a lot of scientists have some pretty good explanations for the existence of this world. Because we can create babies using test tubes and other medical procedures. Because we can control diseases with our medicines. Because God doesn’t prove himself often enough with miracles and other acts of strength.
— Why do we doubt that God loves us? Because there are floods, disease, and other hardships. Because the bad guys are allowed to do terrible things. Because we can build walls for the floods, call in rescue teams and armies, and we can figure out ways to escape or handle most of the hard stuff that comes our way. Because we think God has a right to send the floods, but we think we are right to protect ourselves from the high waters.
— Why do we doubt our prayers will be answered? Because we have prayed for things that didn’t turn out like we wanted. Because we know that there is stuff in our lives that God shouldn’t and won’t honor. Because we think we know what is best, and we pray with that attitude.
Could we look Jesus in the face and answer him if he asked, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We have faith when we have assurance that the words of the Bible can be counted on as truth. We don’t just believe the Bible; we have a conviction, a passionate trust, that the Bible is truth.
How do we “debunk doubt?” We focus on the Bible.
— The Bible has provided wisdom for every generation, for as long as it has existed. In all the world, it is the only volume that crosses cultures, centuries, and people groups—and is truth for everyone. Is there another book that has been published forever, studied forever, and respected forever in that same way? The Bible is a miraculous compilation of thoughts and ideas, unlike anything else.
— Which part of the Bible has been proven wrong? What are the bad ideas that should be tossed out?
— Who is unable to know God if the only book they have is the Bible?
— What people groups ever followed the Bible’s laws and were ruined because they did?
How do we “debunk doubt?” We focus on Jesus.
— The disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus. The resurrected Christ appeared to them. When they doubted they were looking at Jesus, he showed them his hands and feet. He even ate fish in front of them so they wouldn’t think they were seeing a ghost. Many of those disciples gave the rest of their lives to convince the world that Jesus was the Messiah.
— The Apostle Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and gave up everything to serve him.
— People have been serving Jesus because they know Jesus, since those days—for much longer than 2000 years.
I sometimes doubt the reality of God when I don’t understand something or I wish something were different. I never study God’s word or walk away from spending time in his presence with doubts. I can meet God in his word every time I open the cover. How do we debunk doubt? We focus on the truth instead of the lies.
As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth (even doubts) will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” Those words have been true for me when I doubt. O we of little faith, when the doubts come, let’s pick up the miraculous volume of God’s word, sit down next to Jesus, and allow his Holy Spirit to teach. Conviction, assurance, peace, and a great faith will result from that choice.
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