As you read through the gospels, you come across a repeated statement from Jesus that seems to regard the disciples in a negative light. Jesus says to his disciples, “O you of little faith.” There are also times when this is followed up with a question, “Why do you doubt?”
When Jesus preached to his disciples about God’s provision and care for his children, he addressed the fact that they had doubt in their hearts. Matthew 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
When Jesus calmed the winds and the waves on the Sea of Galilee, the terrified disciples were amazed at his command over nature. Matthew 8:26-27 And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?"
When Peter asked to walk on the water to Jesus, he was distracted by the wind and waves about him. He lost focus on Jesus and needed to be saved from sinking into the raging sea. Matthew 14:31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
After Jesus resurrection, Jesus gave the disciples his great commission. Just prior to this Matthew reports, “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17).
It’s easy to be bewildered by the disciple’s doubt. These are men who seemed to see something in Jesus that was so great that they left their livelihoods and families to follow him. At each step of seeing Jesus do amazing miracles, the disciples had growing evidence that Jesus had awesome power. He had power over people, the creation, and even the spiritual realm as he cast out demons. So why is it that those who do have faith in Jesus, still battle with doubt.
In the New Testament, the word for doubt (distazŇć) implies that there is confusion. It is a lack of certainty about whether something can be true. It is a situation of being in two minds about something and results in hesitation breaking into the course of life. With the exception of Judas (John 17:12), Jesus never accuses his disciples of complete unbelief. The many times they are seen with little faith or doubt, they are distracted by circumstances that would normally promote anxiety in any human. We worry over whether we will have enough food and general needs for survival. We worry when uncontrollable natural events are before us. We worry when our crises seem insurmountable. We worry because our situations and circumstances seem to be all we can see.
We are so bound by our world experience that it is almost impossible for humans to look beyond it. We know by experience that when there is no food, we starve. We know that when a natural disaster hits, we have no power to stop it. We know that when our crises are before us, it is hard to think beyond them. We know that we have no power to rise from death. In all these circumstances of little faith and doubt in the disciples, there are no differences between them and us. Humans have trouble considering a reality beyond our normal worldly, finite experiences.
In each of the cases above, Jesus was standing before the disciples. Jesus is the One with all authority and power beyond every aspect of creation and over every realm both physical and spiritual. The disciples doubt because they forget that Jesus is greater than their earthly experience. We do exactly the same.
The answer for doubt is to remind yourself that the earthly experiences of your senses is not all there is. Whatever happens in this world is not greater than Jesus. A disciple of Christ lives in that faith.