I used to shrink with shame when faced with the fact of doubt on my faith journey.
I’d like to be the type of Christ follower who exhibits perfect faith in every circumstance of life. The truth is, on the scorecard of doubt versus faith, doubt has the advantage at times. However, I believe faith is gaining ground because of Christ’s grace in action. This passage is one that helped me shove shame aside and grow in gratitude for His grace:
Matthew 28.16-20 (NASB95)
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.
17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The eleven disciples scored a faith victory in v. 16 when they proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. That’s obedience in action – obedience in faith.
Walking by faith. Inspired by hope. I know how that feels, don’t you? It’s almost like journeying with wings. Clear sailing with gentle winds of purpose and joy.
The next verse? Well, there were four words that felt too familiar. Reading them hindered my soaring spirit – as though an unseen thread tugged me to a full stop. Isn’t that what doubt does? Doesn’t it press pause, causing us to stop short of acting by faith?
“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.” (v. 17)
God included the truth that some of the disciples doubted for a reason. Since He intended that we know it, don’t we hope to see how He reacted to it? Faith – and hope for His solution – nudges us to continue reading.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (vv. 18-20)
What do you see while reading this passage?
- Christ came to them – all of them.
- His reaction to the disciples’ doubt was to meet them where they were.
What don’t you see?
- There is no condemnation.
- He did not shame them – or call them out – before the others.
Christ closed the gap created by doubt. He did so by His presence, His power, and His promise to all who are His. We know it as The Great Commission.
His presence with the disciples.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying (v. 18)
The power of Christ then, now, and forever.
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (v. 18)
In His power, we are commissioned to:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; (vv. 19-20)
His promise to His disciples then, His disciples now, and His disciples yet to believe.
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (v. 20)
Jesus unified His disciples – each of them – with His Great Commission. Doubt did not hinder the intent of God to use His people.
I can’t say how the disciples who doubted felt upon hearing God tell them they hadn’t botched things beyond hope. But I do know how they reacted. They didn’t quit.
I’m a product of their perseverance, enveloped in God’s promise, as are you!
We’re living testimonies to when Christ closed the gap between doubt and faith. Doubt did not destroy their purpose. Doubt did not renounce their relationship with God. They were authentically His, first and foremost. They lived to experience the power of His promise and lead multitudes to Christ. In that, God used the disciples to close the gap between unbelief and belief.
Reading this passage caused me to reflect.
I saw how Christ went to the disciples – how He met them where they were. He met them physically by moving to them. He met them spiritually by giving truth to them.
Am I doing this? Am I going to those who need Christ, or am I waiting for them to come to me?
Doubt is the reason unbelievers don’t believe. This is also true.
Christ closed the gap between doubt and belief for me through a camp counselor when I was a young girl.
I pray I’m helping to close that gap by going to others in need.
Aren’t you grateful for His presence, power, and promises that give us hope to overcome doubt?
Father, thank You for so sweetly closing the gap between doubt and belief in You. I know doubt doesn’t evaporate the moment we believe; it takes faith in Your compassion and grace. May all who are Yours find peace in knowing You do not condemn us when we doubt. You bid us to trust You by confessing our doubt – even though it be with fear. And from there we grow in faith to persevere. May we all grow through Your grace so we can be about the joy of soaring on wings of faith to those in need of Christ.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Have you experienced the freedom to confess doubt to our Father and find help to believe?
Let us know with a comment below.