Fuller

Doubt His Presence

June 3, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture—Matthew 11:2-6 (NRSV)

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with a skin disease are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Focus

If the cousin of Jesus, called to be the forerunner of the lamb of God, baptizer of the son of God and present at the Trinity’s involvement has doubts—if he has moments where he can’t make sense of everything and “if” statements have replaced “this is the one whom I said” (John 1:15)—if John doubts, then just perhaps it will be alright in the life of a leader if you have some doubt too.

Devotion

I recently asked my daughter what she thought doubt does to us. She told me that doubt pushes her down and makes it feel like she can’t do anything and takes her motivation away. We get clarity from the mouths of kids sometimes, don’t we? Doubt clouds what is true. And sometimes in this race of life we treat it like the game of tag. We all are “it”—doubtful—sometimes, but we would rather not claim it.

While in a prison John the Baptist came to the intersection of misaligned expectations and reality. Maybe it was the darkness, or the stark transition from yelling at Pharisees in all their perceived inability to fail to immovable stone walls. Or it could be the painful recognition that his life could come to an end. Whatever it was, John had gone from “behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) to “are you the one…or are we to wait for another?” This actually should give us great encouragement. If the cousin of Jesus, called to be the forerunner of the lamb of God, baptizer of the son of God and present at the Trinity’s involvement has doubts—if he has moments where he can’t make sense of everything and “if” statements have replaced “this is the one whom I said” (John 1:15)—if John doubts, then just perhaps it will be alright in the life of a leader if you have some doubt too. 

Jesus could have dealt with John’s doubt in many ways. John’s disciples could have been misdirected and never found Jesus to ask John’s question. They could have doubted John’s credibility because of his doubt and left him to make it on his own. Jesus could have chastised John: “You are the forerunner; you should know the answer to these questions.” Jesus could have responded just by saying “Yes, it’s me.”  Instead, he did what was good for John and for everyone watching who can admit that doubt is a human possibility.

Luke 7 tells us that Jesus performed miracles in that moment. He cured diseases, cleansed souls, and healed people who were blind. Then he turned to those disciples and simply told them to report to John what they saw and heard. Jesus sent to John more examples of his presence.

Inevitably there will be moments in life where the outcome doesn’t align with our perceived expectations of the results. Doubt is a common response when the ironic processes of God occur. We may doubt his presence, but it does not make him any less involved. The response in those moments is the same as any other moment. Look. Look again and again until you see God. Blessed are the ones who endure, even if they cannot make sense of it.

Reflect

Where do you see misalignment (things that do not align with what you believed was supposed to happen)?

What has God done in the past with your questions and concerns in life?

Act

Write out the present concerns you have that you are waiting for God to answer. Make your requests known, the desires of your heart, your uncertainties, your fears, and excitement. Write them down searching for reasons to be thankful (and have patience with yourself if you do not see them immediately.) Then grab an envelope and seal it and save it for this time next year. When you open it, celebrate how present God has been.

Pray 

There are plenty of moments in life where we have asked “What are you doing, God?” Thank you for embracing our questions and also answering them in your own way. Thank you that your presence is not predicated on our certainty that you are here. This means we do not have to ask you to be present, but rather to help us understand just how involved you are with your creation. Help us, Father, to be disciples who look for your son—the glorified, reigning, king over all creation in all glory, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: When the Messiah Is Not Who You Expected


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