John the Baptist: The one called as a herald to the Messiah: “‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me…’ says the LORD Almighty.” (Malachi 3:1 NIV); “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” (Isaiah 40:3 NIV).
John the Baptist: The one who first recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the one who baptised Jesus: “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’…Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him…I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” (John 1:29, 32-34 NIV)
John the Baptist: The one who would later doubt that Jesus was the Messiah…: “John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?'” (Luke 7:18-19 NIV)
Tell me: Just how can one go from heralding someone as the Messiah to asking “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
It baffles me to think of this. John actually saw the Spirit of God come down as a dove and remain upon Jesus; yet he went on to doubt.
I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in this story. You see, God has revealed Truth to me many times and has confirmed His Word and my understanding. Yet in a weak moment, I still find myself thinking, “Did God actually say that???”
Take, for example, the recent sale of our house. We asked God to confirm that we should put it on the market, and He did, through His Word. So we put the house on the market. Two weeks later, there hadn’t been even a single showing. I was about as discouraged as I could be, and I had a John-the-Baptist moment. I cried out to God: “Lord, if you really want us to sell the house, give us a sign! May there be even the tiniest show of interest in the sale of our house!”
I repented immediately of my doubt. I remembered that God had told us to sell, and I withdrew my request…
Does God punish us for our doubt? Does He get impatient with us? Does He withdraw His promises and His blessings?
When John the Baptist’s messengers left, Jesus turned to the crowd and said,“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” (Luke 7: 4-26 NIV).
No, Jesus understands our weaknesses, and He does not punish us for our doubt; rather, He invites us to come to Him with our doubt, and He is ever ready to help us through them.
I also find it very interesting that when the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus asking if He was truly the Messiah, it was a “yes/no” question; yet Jesus did not give them a “yes-no” answer. Instead, He began doing things that only the Messiah could do: “At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.'” (Luke 7:21-22 NIV).
Sometimes I wish God would simply tell us “yes” or “no”. It would be so much simpler! But God knows something we don’t always realize: A “yes” or a “no” might not actually be enough for our doubting natures!
This is what God did for me as well. He didn’t tell me, “Yes, Lyn, I do want you to sell your house!” Instead, He did something of a miraculous nature that gave us encouragement. Later that same day, after my weak moment when I asked for a sign, despite the fact that I repented of my doubt and withdrew my request, we received a text requesting a showing of our house that afternoon. 30 minutes later, the request was canceled, and our agent was texting us to apologize, saying that this hardly ever happens, but the people changed their minds. He said, “I really don’t know what that was about!” But none of that mattered at all to me. God had given me my sign, and it was something out of the ordinary. As a result, I had no doubts that it was, indeed, His will for us to sell the house. When I later told our agent the whole story, his faith was strengthened as well.
God wants us to believe in Him, yes; but He does not punish us for our doubt. Instead, with everlasting love and kindness, He invites us to come to Him with our doubts, so that He can guide us into all faith. What an amazing God we serve!
Is your faith weak? Tell God about it. Give Him your doubts. Be perfectly honest with Him. He knows your heart anyway, so why hide what is there? Then be prepared for Him to–Strengthen your faith!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.