When You Doubt What You Believe

If Jesus is really the Son of God, why does He let me suffer?  Ever ask that question?  If so, you are in good company.  Even John the Baptist asked that question.  He had been called to prepare the way for Jesus and publicly identified Jesus as the Savior.  John must have imagined that he would be an important figure in Jesus’ band of brothers.  And yet, John was falsely arrested and stuck in prison.   John had doubts, and sent his disciples to double check on Jesus:

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2-3)

Instead of answering John directly,

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”” (Matthew 11:4-6)

In effect, Jesus told John, “I cannot tell you the answer; you must evaluate the evidence and decide what you believe about Me.”  Jesus says the same thing to each of us.  Our relationship with Jesus is not about having the right answer for the quiz, it’s about what we truly believe.  Belief is not formed by someone telling us the answer.  Belief is our personal conviction about the truth of the answer.  And our belief is dynamic, it is challenged and strengthened by the ebb and flow of life.  It is normal for us to consider our doubts as we develop our belief.  Real belief is not afraid to consider doubt.  It is strengthened as we grapple with doubt.

Jesus knew that John believed.  But He also knew that suffering challenges belief.  And so, Jesus encouraged John to hang on: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”  In effect, “Hang in there, John, hold on to your faith.  Even though suffering challenges your faith, your faith is what will lead you through this suffering.”

Here’s how Peter explained the dynamics of suffering and faith:

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT)

 If you are suffering and doubting, hang on; you will be blessed.  But maybe you are still wondering why Jesus left John in prison to die, or why He allows you to suffer what you are going through.  Stay tuned; we’ll take that up next…

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