FOR A BOOK about faith, the Bible has a lot of doubters in it. Pretty much every person God used wrestled with uncertainty at some stage in life. Doubt seems to be a part of the human condition. But while it’s a reality, it’s not a virtue. In fact, Jesus spoke strongly against it.
Consider the words He had for Peter, who began to sink after starting to walk on the water. Remember there were 11 disciples still back in the boat, clinging to the sides in fear. Peter was the only one to step out and give it a go. But what were Jesus’s words to Peter when he started to go under? “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
Then there were His words to Thomas, after His resurrection: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27).
Nor are these isolated instances of tough talking on doubt. In James, the book written by the brother of Jesus, the apostle wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-7).
This all seems to be so harsh, doesn’t it? Why is God so stern on this issue of doubt?
Not because He’s ticked, but because He has and wants more for us. Jesus declared: “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
And the fact is that God is looking for our participation, our cooperation, in experiencing the fullness of the kingdom about which He speaks. It’s not that God can’t work miraculously without us—He is omnipotent, not impotent. It is that, for some reason, He many times chooses to desire our partnership.
We see this throughout Jesus’s life. He said, “Come to me all you who are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28), not, “Wait there and I will be right over.” He said, “Ask, seek and knock” (Matthew 7:7), not, “Look for your Amazon delivery.” He said, “I stand at the door and knock and will come in to anyone who opens the door” (Revelation 3:20), not, “Hellooooo, anyone there? Just letting Myself in…”
Many times, His healing power was tied to the people’s faith: for instance, the woman with the issue of blood and the two blind men, both in Matthew 9.
So when we doubt, we may somehow be limiting God’s capacity to release the more He has in mind for us—and for others through us. Seen in this light, Jesus’s words to Peter are more stern and fierce than harsh. And anyone who’s had children knows that, at times, their love and concern for their young ones require them to speak sternly and fiercely.