“And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? (Luke 7:19)
Have you ever doubted the inerrancy of the Bible, the deity of Jesus, or even the existence of God? If so, you’re in good company. If I were a man, I wouldn’t mind having Jesus say there never was a greater prophet in all the world than I (v. 28), or have Him consider me a replica of Elijah (Matt. 12-13). True, this episode in John the Baptist’s life was probably not his finest hour, but it wasn’t his final one, either. Jesus showed no concern here that John would lose his faith. On the contrary, he simply sent his disciples back to remind him of what he already knew.
There’s a difference between doubt and unbelief. The latter is a willful choice. Doubt, on the other hand, may just be an indication that you’re thinking, according to Oswald Chambers. Alister McGrath closes his excellent book, simply called Doubting, with these words:
Doubt is a subject that many Christians find both difficult and sensitive. They may see it as something shameful and disloyal, on the same level as heresy. As a result, it is often something that they don’t—or won’t—talk about. They suppress it. Others fall into the opposite trap—they get totally preoccupied by doubt. The get overwhelmed by it. They lose sight of God through concentrating on themselves. Yet doubt is something too important to be treated in either of these ways. Viewed positively, doubt provides opportunities for spiritual growth. It tests your faith and shows you where it is vulnerable. It forces you to think about your faith and not just take it for granted. It stimulates you to strengthen the foundations of your relationship with God.
“What shall I do if I’m doubting?” you ask. “Gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Pet. 1:13), and grasp firm hold on “the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). Spiritual discipline is called for here. Your lifeline is your relationship to God through prayer and His Word, because we live in a world that is completely alien to God. It’s like trying to live and breathe under water. We need “heavenly oxygen” to sustain us. Remember, faith is only needed when doubt is possible, and truth is no less true because it is doubted. Yes, doubt is possible—perhaps probable—for the child of God, but it should never be acceptable.
If you feel you must doubt, then doubt your doubts.