Like many people, I assumed that doubt and unbelief were the same, because we usually put them in the same context. In recent years, however, I’ve learned that there is a difference. Obviously, doubt and unbelief do not honor God, but I want to show you how they function in different ways.
The story of the prophet Elijah is an excellent picture of doubt at work. King Ahab was the most evil leader the people had known. Elijah declared that because of Ahab’s wickedness, no rain would fall until he, the prophet, said so. For the next three-and-a-half years, drought scourged the land.
Now, that’s a pretty clear picture. There had been sufficient rain before Elijah’s declaration—but after he spoke, the skies quit yielding water. That is pretty obvious. Who would question God or His prophet? But apparently, the people’s fear of Ahab—as well as the lack of rainfall—caused their minds to be filled with questions.
Elijah finally called all the people together, along with the king and the false prophets, and asked them why they doubted. Why were they caught between two possible answers? That’s what doubt really is. Doubt isn’t simply unbelief—it’s more of an attitude that says, “I believe, but . . .” or, “I want to believe, but . . .”
Doubt often comes to reside where faith once lived. Doubt is active opposition to faith, and it tries to push faith aside. The people had believed the prophet, but as time wore on—three-and-a-half years—apparently questions arose, and uncertainty crept in.
If Elijah really did this, he ought to stop it right now. Maybe it just happened. Or, How do we really know that was the word of God? As soon as they seriously asked themselves these questions, they opened the door for Satan to bring doubt into their minds.
Doubt never comes from God—it is always in opposition to His will.
In writing to the Romans, Paul pointed out that the Lord gives each of us a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). When we cling to that faith, we push away doubts. But when we allow questions to enter in—any kind of uncertainty that takes our minds away from God’s wonderful work in our lives—that’s doubt.
It is also a subtle, sneaky entry point for our enemy. He plants doubt in our minds, hoping it will cause us to oppose God. We probably don’t think of doubt as something that strong, but it is—it’s the first step of opposition to what God declares. That’s why we need to know God’s Word. If we know the Word, we can recognize it when the devil lies to us and causes us to question.
Elijah wouldn’t allow the people of his day to move back and forth from doubt to belief. He made the options clear: Believe the true God or believe a false idol. Don’t fall into the trap of saying you believe in God when your heart is filled with doubts and questions. Choose true faith and say, “Lord, I believe. I may not always understand, but I trust You.”
Prayer Starter: True and faithful God, in the past, I’ve been weak, allowing Satan to make me question You, Your love, and Your plans for my life. Not only do I ask You to forgive me, but I also ask You to teach me Your Word and strengthen me so that Satan can never trick me again. Thank You for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.