Sitting across from me at the table she said, "I believe in God, but this Jesus stuff is a fairytale." Then she apologized as if she had offended me.
The thing is, I could never be offended about something that I understand so well. I've been a believer/follower of Jesus Christ for 20 years and the truth is sometimes it's hard for me to believe this Jesus stuff. It's hard for me to believe that God could become a man and that one man could save the world from sin. It's hard to believe that he walked on water, that he calmed storms, that he gave sight to the blind, that he healed leoprosy, that he made the lame to stand, It's hard for me to believe that he rose from the dead. It's even harder to believe that all God wants from me is to believe that Jesus the God/man is the sacrificial lamb of God and that his blood takes away my sin.
The very essence of faith is working through your doubts. It would be ridiculous to speak of having faith, if you never asked yourself questions and in turn found answers for those questions. If you live your entire life as a Christian, but never work through your doubt, you never fully believed.
I had blind faith once. Faith like a child, that all the Bible said was true, but when my mom received a cancer diagnosis, a sliver of doubt cracked through my soul. When we prayed, cried and begged for her healing and were denied that request, that sliver turned into a canyon. If God was real and the Bible was true, then God would have answered our prayers, because the Bible says "ask and it shall be given you." I asked and he didn't give. That was 3 years ago and for 3 years my old faith has been stripped away. The doubts about God, the Bible, and Jesus were all consuming. My life in all of other areas didn't live up to my child like expectations and I was completely disappointed by life. God was a myth and I was devastated.
It's been the most painful experience of my life to pick my faith apart. There was a huge self inflicted pressure to "keep up face" to my children and the world around me, but there were rare moments of complete honesty, when I would ask my husband if he really believed all of this and I would beg him to prove that it was all real. From a historical, analytical stand point he would prove Christ to me. He would make his case for God and in the end it was left for me to decide for myself. At the same time, the Spirit of God, would reveal the truth of His Word to me and slowly and steadily my faith began to build again. It started out small, but this time it wasn't blind.
This post isn't really about proving God, so I'm not going to take the time to do that. It's more about accepting doubt as a part of faith. It's about being honest with people, who doubt that there is a God or that Jesus is God, and admitting that it's not always easy for you to believe. It's about understanding how hard it is for your family and friends to believe all this stuff and loving them through their doubt. It's about taking someone by the hand and walking with them until they do begin to see God with their own eyes. We shouldn't be ashamed or embarrassed to admit that we struggle to believe sometimes. God is BIGGER than our doubt. He can handle it and HE CAN PROVE HIMSELF.
There was a man once who had walked with Jesus for 3 years. He had been by his side as he fed 5000 with 2 small fish and 5 loaves. He was there when the Jesus said 'Peace be still' to the storm that were threatening to upend their boat. He was there when Jesus gave sight to the blind and he was there when Jesus healed the sick. But on the day that the other disciples said, "WE HAVE SEEN THE LORD." AFTER Jesus had risen from the grave, Thomas did not believe them, and he said, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I WILL NOT BELIEVE."
And after 8 days Jesus came again to his disciples and this time Thomas was with them and Jesus went straight to Thomas and said, "Reach here your fingers, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, BUT BELIEVE." John 20.
Jesus can prove himself and he is not afraid of doubt. Be honest with yourself and with other people. It's hard to believe and we all struggle. Sometimes our faith is strong, other times it is weak. Either way God is who he said he is and he can handle your doubt. What would it do to your conversations if you were able to be honest with unbelievers and say I don't have all the answers? How would it change your relationship with the world if you admitted you struggle to believe? What wonders would happen if we prayed for other people and ourselves to touch the nail prints and BELIEVE?