How Doubts Can Help Us Grow In Our Faith

I often thought doubts negated faith. But actually our doubts help us where faith can grow. To overcome unbelief, we must turn to Jesus for help.

How Doubts Can Help Us Grow In Our Faith

September 9, 2021

Lord, help me believe your promises. As I prayed these words, they cut me to the heart. Shouldn’t my faith be rock solid by now? How can I have doubts?

Because I grew up as an unbeliever, I tend to view any form of doubt as a betrayal of faith. But over the years I’ve learned this isn’t necessarily true.

One of my favorite stories from the gospel of Mark addresses this issue of doubt. Immediately following the transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13), Jesus, Peter, James, and John made their way down the mountain. They found a large crowd gathering around the remaining disciples who stood arguing with the teachers of the law. Jesus immediately discovered the cause of the argument. The disciples had failed to drive an unclean spirit out of a boy. At this point, Jesus took control of the situation: 

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 

So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:19-24 NIV)

Before He did anything else, Jesus noted the unbelief of the people around Him. As I study this passage, I see varying degrees of unbelief among some of the key people present:

The teachers of the law, also called scribes, were experts of the Mosaic law (the commandments given by Moses). From the early days of Jesus’ ministry, they did not believe His power came from God. Their unbelief caused them to reject Jesus and miss out on God’s promises (Mark 3:22-29). 

The disciples struggled with believing they could drive out the spirit. Earlier in the ministry, Jesus gave them the power to drive out spirits, and they had done so (Mark 6:7-13). Suddenly they lacked faith and failed. When they asked Jesus why this happened, He reminded them they needed to rely on God, “He replied,“‘This kind can come out only by prayer’” (Mark 9:29 NIV).

The father of the boy expressed a belief plagued by doubt. He began with enough faith to bring his son to the disciples. But disheartened by their failure, he struggled to believe his son could be cured. 

Like the scribes, I once lacked faith in Jesus. Thankfully, faith can grow, even from nothing. If we have an open mind and heart, God’s word can bring us to faith (Romans 10:17). 

I can also relate to the disciples because I find it so easy to forget to draw my strength from God. Relying on myself often leads to failure. When this happens, I begin to doubt God’s plan for my life. Like the disciples, I need to turn to God and deepen my reliance on Him. 

The boy’s father expressed the same conflict I often feel in my own heart. Deep disappointment can lead me to doubt God’s love or goodness. When the boy’s father realized his unbelief, he turned to Jesus to help him. In the same way, whenever I begin to doubt God’s love for me, I need to ask Him to help me with my unbelief.

The longer I walk with God, the more I see faith as a journey. Doubt doesn’t necessarily reveal an absence of faith; it simply shows us where our faith needs to grow. Jesus promised us anything is possible if we believe. I’ve followed Him long enough to know He doesn’t mean I will get everything I desire. But with faith, I can trust Him to provide everything I need.

We continue to walk through unprecedented and difficult times where it may be easy to waver in our faith. Whenever that happens, I pray we can turn to the One who helps us overcome our unbelief. 

How Doubts Can Help Us Grow In Our Faith

September 9, 2021

I often thought doubts negated faith. But actually our doubts help us where faith can grow. To overcome unbelief, we must turn to Jesus for help.

Lord, help me believe your promises. As I prayed these words, they cut me to the heart. Shouldn’t my faith be rock solid by now? How can I have doubts?

Because I grew up as an unbeliever, I tend to view any form of doubt as a betrayal of faith. But over the years I’ve learned this isn’t necessarily true.

One of my favorite stories from the gospel of Mark addresses this issue of doubt. Immediately following the transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13), Jesus, Peter, James, and John made their way down the mountain. They found a large crowd gathering around the remaining disciples who stood arguing with the teachers of the law. Jesus immediately discovered the cause of the argument. The disciples had failed to drive an unclean spirit out of a boy. At this point, Jesus took control of the situation: 

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 

So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:19-24 NIV)

Before He did anything else, Jesus noted the unbelief of the people around Him. As I study this passage, I see varying degrees of unbelief among some of the key people present:

The teachers of the law, also called scribes, were experts of the Mosaic law (the commandments given by Moses). From the early days of Jesus’ ministry, they did not believe His power came from God. Their unbelief caused them to reject Jesus and miss out on God’s promises (Mark 3:22-29). 

The disciples struggled with believing they could drive out the spirit. Earlier in the ministry, Jesus gave them the power to drive out spirits, and they had done so (Mark 6:7-13). Suddenly they lacked faith and failed. When they asked Jesus why this happened, He reminded them they needed to rely on God, “He replied,“‘This kind can come out only by prayer’” (Mark 9:29 NIV).

The father of the boy expressed a belief plagued by doubt. He began with enough faith to bring his son to the disciples. But disheartened by their failure, he struggled to believe his son could be cured. 

Like the scribes, I once lacked faith in Jesus. Thankfully, faith can grow, even from nothing. If we have an open mind and heart, God’s word can bring us to faith (Romans 10:17). 

I can also relate to the disciples because I find it so easy to forget to draw my strength from God. Relying on myself often leads to failure. When this happens, I begin to doubt God’s plan for my life. Like the disciples, I need to turn to God and deepen my reliance on Him. 

The boy’s father expressed the same conflict I often feel in my own heart. Deep disappointment can lead me to doubt God’s love or goodness. When the boy’s father realized his unbelief, he turned to Jesus to help him. In the same way, whenever I begin to doubt God’s love for me, I need to ask Him to help me with my unbelief.

The longer I walk with God, the more I see faith as a journey. Doubt doesn’t necessarily reveal an absence of faith; it simply shows us where our faith needs to grow. Jesus promised us anything is possible if we believe. I’ve followed Him long enough to know He doesn’t mean I will get everything I desire. But with faith, I can trust Him to provide everything I need.

We continue to walk through unprecedented and difficult times where it may be easy to waver in our faith. Whenever that happens, I pray we can turn to the One who helps us overcome our unbelief. 

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2 Comments

  1. Teresa on September 10, 2021 at 8:19 AM

    Shirley thanks for your words today, they have hit close to home for me. Over the last few months I have doubted God and his plan wondering if I was doing what he needed me to do and living a Christian life. It’s that what you know in your head and how your heart deals with it. I do know I am a work in progress.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on September 12, 2021 at 3:38 PM

      Thanks Teresa. We are all works in progress! Thank goodness for grace.💕 I loved learning how to see doubts from a different perspective ~ using them to reveal potential for growth. 😊

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