The Desert Of Doubt
I’m not sure why it happens this way, but the holy week from Palm Sunday to Easter always seems to be too full. Full of events, problems, rushing, to do lists - you name it.
While I’ve been rushing around being very busy, I’ve also felt parched, as if I’ve been walking too long in an arid land and my water ran out some steps ago.
I know this feeling. It doesn’t mean I need to chug my Nalgene. It means I need time with Jesus and His Word. My Spirit needs the Living Water, and it needs it ASAP.
So, I began lapping up the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection like a woman caught in a desert who finally finds her oasis. And the account in scripture of the week to end all weeks began to hydrate my soul.
The first thing that struck me was in Luke 24:5. Some women, after Jesus’ death on the cross, made their way to prepare his body. What they found was an empty tomb, angels, and an entreaty:
“In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’”
Why? Why would anyone look for life among death?
Well the short answer is, they wouldn’t. And, I believe those two men in their sparkly robes (see Luke 24:4) knew that too. They knew the women were looking for a dead body.
And, so our gleaming friends point out the irony because these women, having known Jesus and followed Him until His horrific and public death should have been looking for their risen Savior. They had heard Jesus Himself prophesy of His own resurrection, but the women were in a cemetery going to prepare a dead body.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
I think it was doubt.
It may have been easy to believe in Jesus while He was alive, but after witnessing His death, experiencing the circumstances of true sorrow and loss, their belief left them.
Maybe they forgot the prophecy, forgot His words, forgot His plan to save them from an eternal death.
Maybe they forgot His miracles, His true nature, His God-ness which set Him apart from the confines of this world.
Regardless of the maybes, they walked up to that tomb looking for the dead among the dead.
Wait a sec. Don’t judge these women too harshly. Doubt was actually ran rampant after Jesus’ death. After our women were convinced of the resurrection, they quickly left the heavenly messengers and the tomb and headed to inform the disciples who were less than convinced:
“When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Luke 24:9, 11
Here we see that those closest to Jesus, His own disciples, who would soon carry the message of the Gospel to the world, were racked with unbelief as well. They were so caught up in the death of their Beloved Rabbi, that they were missing the most important part of the story.
There’s a piece of Truth here that I believe is incredibly important. Doubt and unbelief seem to come when we focus on what’s happening to us and forgetting Who is in control of us and His ultimate plan for our lives.
That was true for me this week. When I was full to overflowing, my busy schedule eclipsed the story of God in my life. It led me to focus on my circumstances, forgetting Him, instead of spending time with Him and remembering His ultimate plan for my life.
It happens to me a lot, I’m afraid to say. Maybe it happens to you too.
But even in our doubt, the Word communicates some great Truth for when it comes.
First of all, Jesus is with us in our doubt.
We see this throughout the Gospels, but especially right after the resurrection. Jesus appeared to His disciples and followers numerous times over a period of forty days. In that time, He spent time with them, He spoke with them, He continued to teach them, and He even let them touch His resurrected body.
Jesus knew His closest followers doubted (sometimes He even pointed it out to them, Luke 25:25). And although His earthly work had been accomplished, He chose to stay with them on earth regardless of their unbelief.
The same thing is true for me and for you.
I know this may sound cliche, but it is important to remember that the Lord promises to be with us wherever we go. But, I don’t think we think about this as applied to our mental state. God’s promise is more than just physical. He is with us regardless of what we are or are not believing about Him. He doesn’t leave us if we doubt His plan, His character, His works.
He is always there.
Second, Jesus doesn’t condemn us for our doubt, He helps us believe.
Throughout Jesus’ appearances during the forty days right after His resurrection, He did many things to bolster the belief of those that saw Him.
My favorite thing He did is seen a couple of times in Luke:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” Luke 25:27
“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:44-45
I love that Jesus is the consummate teacher. He prophesied and taught about His role on earth; He lived, died, rose on the the third day; then He came back to His people and He took the time to connect it all for them. He explained it all, and He opened their minds to understand it for themselves.
As a result, their doubt left them, and they truly believed!
“They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’ They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’” Luke 25: 32-34
Once again, the same is true for me and for you.
My Lord is the necessary component to open my mind to His Truth. So when I doubt, I have to make time with Jesus, so that He can lead me through His Word and help me to understand it. Then the Truth that He reveals helps me to move forward in faith that God has me regardless of whatever I’m experiencing.
That need was what I was experiencing this week when I was too full of the circumstances of this busy life. I was parched, and the dry spell resulted in a desert of doubt.
But, when I took time to drink in the Word as I met with Jesus, He opened my mind to the glory of His death and resurrection in Luke 24.
It was easy then, to leave the doubt behind, fully satiated in Him.
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook