Thursday, August 4, 2011


Doubt can be highly disorienting and daunting, but it’s also quite normal, even among the most spiritual. None were more spiritual than John the Baptist. According to Malachi (3:1) and Isaiah (40:3), John had been the one selected to prepare hearts for the coming Messiah. Indeed, he was the first one to identify Him, proclaiming to all,

• “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!...I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (John 1:29-34)

You might think that after John saw this confirmatory evidence, doubt would have been permanently banished from his thinking. However, after he was imprisoned by King Herod, doubts about Jesus played havoc with his mind. He therefore sent his disciples to Jesus

• …to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:3)

When they found Him, Jesus could have told them, “What’s the matter with the faith of that John? Hasn’t he already received enough evidence?” However, Jesus knowing the painful depths of our trials of faith and our need for solid reasons-to-believe, advised John’s disciples to report back to him about the miracles that they were watching Jesus perform.

We, however, do not have Jesus living among us in the flesh, feeding His contemporaries on a regular diet of incontestable miracles. Yes, God is still a God of miracles, but it doesn’t seem that He performs them as liberally as He once had. How then are we to reassure our flagging faith through those “dark nights of the soul?”

I come from a long line of progenitors who have perfected doubt into an art form. Nothing that we hear can escape the clutches of our negativity, skepticism and criticism. While this might be OK if one doesn’t have any cherished beliefs, this tendency has made my faith-walk into a climb of Mt. Everest. Nothing came easily to me. Often, I felt crushed under the burdens of my own deeply entrenched skepticism.

Nevertheless, I’ve learned many valuable lessons on the Everest trek. For one thing, I’ve learned that I am incapable of keeping my own faith. My faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-9), one that He also had guaranteed to service:

• Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who THROUGH FAITH ARE SHIELDED BY GOD'S POWER until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Knowing that God is the author and defender of my faith, when I go through those “dark nights,” I have learned to pray this way, “Lord, you will have to keep me. I can’t keep myself. My salvation is your gift, and so I’m committing it to you, completely.” I therefore leave my concerns with God, and He always picks them up, strengthening me at each slope.

Nor does He disdain me for my failures. After John disciples left Jesus, He began to muse about John:

• “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11)

John’s lapse did not diminish him in the eyes of our Savior. Neither will ours!

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