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Christmas Is for Doubters

For a lot of people, Christmas is a time of joy, family, and even reconnection with God. But maybe this Christmas finds you hollow. Questions have burrowed their way into your heart and eaten away at the foundations of your faith.

Maybe the questions feel philosophical: Why would a good God allow so much evil? Why didn’t he stop the Hamas attack before it happened? Why does he let so many innocent people die?

Maybe the questions are deeply personal: Why didn’t God intervene in my pain? Why didn’t God save my marriage? Heal my mom’s cancer? Bring home my child?

Room for Doubters

Believe it or not, Christmas is for doubters. Read the Christmas narratives in Luke 1–2 and you’ll see they’re filled with people who doubt. Here we have a newly engaged couple suddenly mired in scandal because of Mary’s divinely induced pregnancy, a pregnancy she neither expected nor requested. Mary and Joseph were already the poorest of the poor, and now God chooses to make them social outcasts too? Of all the ways to bring the Son of God into the world, why this way?

Here’s a shocking fact: most sections in our Bibles were penned by people struggling with difficult questions of doubt. Read the Psalms, the laments of the prophets, or the bewildered questions of the disciples during the life of Jesus. They couldn’t figure out what God was up to.

Room for Faith

The good news is these doubters found reasons to believe—not because all their questions were answered but despite the fact that they weren’t.

These doubters found reasons to believe—not because all their questions were answered but despite the fact that they weren’t.

Biblically speaking, if you’re waiting on a resolution to all your questions before you believe, you’ll never find faith. That doesn’t mean faith is baseless, however. Mary and Joseph had a miraculous pregnancy, an angelic visitor, and hundreds of years of messianic prophecy to fall back on. Because these things were undeniable, Mary and Joseph found the ability to live with the unexplainable. Faith, for them, meant accepting what they couldn’t understand based on what they could.

We too have reasons to believe. We see even more prophetic fulfillment than they did. Jesus fulfilled more than 300 specific messianic prophecies during his lifetime—including when he was to be born (Isa. 40:3–4; Dan. 9), his birthplace (Mic. 5:2; Hos. 11:1), who his ancestors would be (Gen. 12:3; 17:19; 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:12–13), how he’d live (Isa. 6:9–10; 61:1–3; Ps. 78:1–2), the circumstances of his betrayal (Ps. 41:9; Zech. 11:12–13), how he’d die (Isa. 53; Ps. 22), and many others.

Perhaps even more convincingly, we see that all the stories in the Torah and Prophets created a silhouette of messianic expectation that Jesus fit perfectly. He was the seed of deliverance promised to Adam and Eve, the substitute ram provided for Abraham, the perfect lamb offered in Levitical sacrifice, Isaiah’s suffering servant, and the Jonah-like prophet cast out into the sea of God’s wrath so forgiveness could be preached to the world. And many more.

Greatest of all, we have the resurrection. Many who’ve studied it have arrived at the same conclusion as German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg: “The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.” Don’t believe me? Go study it for yourself.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, none of what he says matters. But if the resurrection happened, we have reason to believe in Jesus. More than that, we can set our questions aside and agree to wrestle with him from a place of trust.

Room for Jesus

Don’t let your doubts be the Grinch that steals your joy this Christmas. Doubt, dare I say, is often divinely induced—the doubt, of course, isn’t, but the situation that creates the doubt is. It’s a foot poised to go forward or backward in faith. Doubt can indeed take you backward into despair. But you can’t go forward in faith until you pick up your foot.

Doubt can take you backward into despair. But you can’t go forward in faith until you pick up your foot.

There’s a lot about suffering I still don’t understand. But the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus show me one thing suffering can’t mean: that God has forsaken me, forgotten me, or failed me.

Believe enough to be at peace with your doubts this Christmas. Tim Keller always said that if you pride yourself on questioning everything, take it one step further: be willing to doubt your doubts. The empty tomb of Jesus gives you good reason to. Will you put your faith, trust, and hope in the finished work of Christ this year?

Do you doubt? You’re in good company. In the presence of Jesus, doubters—like me, like you—are welcome.


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