February 19, 2019
By Steve King
Did you know that the Bible reveals two kinds of doubters? One God condemns and the other He consoles. The issue is not if we have doubt but what kind of doubt we have.
The doubt God condemns is dishonest because it is actually rebellion hiding behind the label of doubt. Those with rebellious unbelief cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman (John 3:19). This unbelief can have multiple causes like fear, bad examples, bitterness, and misperceptions.
The doubt God consoles is honest, “Thomas-like” doubt. Jesus personally appeared to Thomas, quoted him, gave him hard evidence and urged him to believe (John 20:26-27). Thomas’ doubt was not a cover up for rebellion, but a consequence of deep disappointment and misplaced expectations.
The Bible repeatedly uncovers God’s consoling approach to non-rebellious doubters:
- With Job, God openly consoled him and rebuked his friends.
- David was comforted in his questioning of why God seemed to forsake him.
- Habakkuk was the prophet with a question mark for a mind, yet God reassured him.
- John the Baptist wondered in his imprisonment if Jesus was the Messiah, and Jesus responded by affirming his faith.
- Jesus healed the son of the father who cried, “I believe, help my unbelief!”
When doubt begins to disturb you, respond by examining the cause: Is it rooted in rebellion or disappointment?
Note: A book that helped me clarify the difference between honest doubt and rebellion is Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey (Zondervan, 1988). He traces the unusual theme of disappointment with God through the Bible and provides some helpful insights on the reality of living by faith.