July 2012: Overcome doubt!
From a divine service by the Chief Apostle...
At the conclusion of Mark we read: “Later He [the Risen One] appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16: 14). Thus we can see that there was scepticism even among the eleven Apostles! They were unable to grasp the scope of this event.
After His resurrection on Easter morning, the Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene and thereafter “in another form to two of them as they walked”, as it says in Mark 16: 12. These were, in other words, “those who had seen Him” and whose report had not been believed by the eleven. In spite of this the Lord did not reject the Apostles. He did not dwell on their unbelief and hardness of heart. Instead He put all of this aside and commissioned them: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (cf. Mark 16: 15)—a mandate that still applies today.
It may be that thoughts of doubt and unbelief come up from time to time. This is not something we can prevent. We live in a world in which people want to justify and comprehend everything in rational terms using their understanding and human reason. Biblical events are not exempt from this—not even the resurrection of Christ. Here we observe that there are many doubts and many things that are called into question, which people often seek to interpret differently. Such thoughts also come to us. Let us not dwell on what others think.
Nevertheless we live in this world and have likely already asked ourselves the question as to whether the Lord really manifests Himself through His word. The Lord knows we have such thoughts! He sweeps them aside through His word. He does not look upon our weaknesses and imperfections, not even upon our doubts. The Lord does not judge us for any of this, but seeks to give us the strength in order to overcome and conquer these things.
Who among us could boast that he or she has never had any doubts? This might not even be a question of elementary doubt as to what the Lord has actually done. But perhaps one or the other question arises from time to time and we heave a sigh and say: “Dear God, do things really have to be the way they are?” How do we deal with this question? Do we allow this thought to continue to fester within us? Should we permit such thoughts to take root in our hearts? Do we perhaps even spread these thoughts in order to try and reinforce our doubts even more? That would be dangerous!
But if we ask God to give us the strength to overcome these things, He will hear us and grant us new courage.
Let us direct our eyes forward in the knowledge that the Lord is coming! He will also prepare a day for us when we can experience our own resurrection!