Faith is a deep subject. Faith can be a mystery. There are secrets many people don’t know about faith in general. There are secrets people don’t know about their own personal faith. Here is a big one…faith lives in your doubt.
Faith lives in doubt.
The resurrection of Lazarus is one of my favorite passages of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were some of Jesus’ best friends outside of his twelve disciples. You find Mary, Martha and Lazarus pop up all over the gospels.
In this story, Jesus learns of Lazarus’ sickness, but delays to visit him. Jesus waits several days, and then finally calls on Lazarus and his family. By the time Jesus arrives to Lazarus’ home, it’s too late. Lazarus has been dead for days.
The first person Jesus encounters is Lazarus’ sister Martha. We don’t know this for a fact, but I gather from the stories in scripture Martha as the oldest sibling. She definitely takes charge of this situation and meets Jesus.
Martha greets Jesus with these words:
“Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”” -John 11:21-22 NLT
Martha: A picture of doubt + faith
Reading between the lines, I see Martha making several statements.
- Accusation. There is a slight bit of accusation. “…if you had only been here…”. In other words, “Where were you Jesus?” Martha had trusted and believed in Jesus, but now…
- Doubt. In Martha’s words we hear the seed of doubt. “…my brother would not have died.” If you would have been here, you could have healed him, but you weren’t here, so Lazarus is dead. Maybe you’re not who I thought you were.
- Threads of Faith. Finally, it’s the words of a woman still grasping to the threads of her faith. “But even now I know…” I still believe God listens to you. You are more than just a man, right?
Martha’s reaction is my reaction at times in my life. Has been your reaction too? Maybe it is where you are right now? Everyone at some point questions Jesus. Am I crazy to believe in this Jesus of Nazareth? Can he be, not just the Messiah, but God?
If you find yourself in that place, take heart. If tomorrow you find yourself here, be encouraged.
Without doubt, there is no faith.
In your unbelief, do you believe?
Let me say it another way. Your faith exists because of your doubt. If you tell me you never doubt, then I don’t know if you truly have faith. Faith is stepping into the unknown. The unknown creates questions: Will there be solid ground? Is it a black hole? The unknown is your doubt.
Do you doubt Jesus? Martha doubted because Jesus was too late to heal her brother. For you is it a relationship broken? Maybe you doubt because of your deteriorating health? Could it be your overwhelming finances? Or is it an unbreakable addiction? Do you question because of a wayward child?
The sooner you name your doubt, the quicker you can answer the question Jesus responds to your doubt with.
“Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” -John 11:26 NLT
Do you believe? Sure, you have your doubts, but do you believe?
The free will of faith.
Faith is a choice. I love that about faith. I can choose to believe or not. It’s in my control. No one can force faith – not God Himself. In my doubt, I choose to believe. So Jesus asks you and I this same question, especially when we doubt…”Do you believe?”
Martha’s doubt reminds her of her faith. She responds by saying,
““Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”” -John 11:27 NLT
Will you allow your doubt to also remind you of your faith? The beautiful thing about faith in Jesus is you don’t need to have all the answers. Some things can remain a mystery and faith can live on.
Faith lives in your doubt.