“Doubt is not the opposite of faith, sight is.” Our pastor said this a few weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it since then. I agree that sight is the opposite of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 But if doubt isn’t the opposite of faith like I’ve always assumed, then what is it? Now I’m a chronic doubter, so the idea that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith is very comforting. I started looking for when doubt is mentioned in the Bible and the majority of the time faith is mentioned right next to it. Peter tried walking on the water to meet Jesus and when he took his eyes off Him, he began to sink. “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31 How about in James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” Again, in Matthew when Jesus had cursed the fig tree He told His disciples, “if you have faith, and no doubt….” So, if sight is the opposite of faith, then what exactly is doubt since they are mentioned time and time again together?
My daughter and I love watching the Marvel and DC movies together. We enjoy the earlier ones probably more than some of the new ones. Have you ever considered how boring they would be if there wasn’t the arch nemesis? Look at Batman and the Joker. In the end of Batman begins he conquers Ra’s al Ghul, and has set Gotham on the right track. But…the Joker’s calling card is left at the scene of a crime. The Joker pushes Batman to step up his game. To train harder, to study different strategies, to create new weapons. If the Joker, or any other villain, never showed up to challenge Batman he would have probably gone into retirement, taken up life on easy street. But the Joker did show up and pushed him, constantly question everything he stood for, and ultimately tried to destroy him. And of course, Batman rose to the occasion and defeated him, that’s what makes it a good movie, right? A villain you can despise, a hero bigger than life, locked in an epic battle of good vs evil.
What if doubt is the arch nemesis to our faith, constantly there to challenge our faith, question it, and try to defeat it? Peter had faith, little faith but faith non the less. However, the doubt is what caused him to sink. Doubt is a guarantee in life, more for some of us than others. My daughter is blessed with the gift of faith. Doubts don’t plague her like they do me. She’s a much better batman then I am. I’m more like a Bruce Banner (Hulk). Doubting my abilities and unsure of how I fit in. I step out of the boat and the doubt starts whispering in my ear. “Who do you think you are? You really think God is bigger than this? Look at the waves crashing around you? If God really wanted what was good for you, He would have left you in the boat. He would have calmed the storm. This is how He shows you He loves you?” As we are driven and tossed by the waves of doubt, we can cry out, “Lord, save me!” and be caught by the hand of our Savior, or we can let them take us under. We can use the doubt to drive us back into scripture, prayer, and study, or we can let it overcome and paralyze us. The Hulk was ruled by his anger until he figured how to control it and turn it into something useful. I want to use my doubt, not allow it to control me. There’s a tension between faith and doubt. Because faith is assurance of what’s not seen, there’s going to be level of doubt in that. Poor doubting Thomas has such a bad rap. If you read the account in John 20:24-29, doubt is not ever mentioned directly. Thomas states that he won’t believe unless he sees. After his encounter with Christ, Jesus says, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” It doesn’t take faith to believe in something you’ve seen and experienced. Christ didn’t chastise him for doubting, but for not believing. We are going to have doubts, what we do with those doubts is what matters. Do we let our arch nemesis push us to become stronger, or let him over power us and drag us under?