O You of Little Faith

What does God think of our uncertainty?

O You of Little Faith.html

When my friend realized it was time to break up with her boyfriend, she didn’t intend for her decision to drag on for a month. It started with a moment of heartbreaking clarity—and the next day a confrontation. But the following week she was tortured with doubt and pled for more time to think. The weeks after that were filled with overanalyzing, waffling, discussing, and then one final conversation.

I had put myself on standby, ready to be her sounding board, but instead she kept apologizing for the mess. My friend was embarrassed that the breakup had been drawn out. She had expressed every known emotion in a matter of weeks, and all she had to show for it was an unsure, barely committed decision.


I believe she handled it as best she could, but I do understand the shame of being unsure, feeling guilty for not knowing yourself better or hearing the Spirit more clearly. Somewhere along the line, many of us learn that our uncertainty is an indicator of weak faith, and Jesus’ words “you of little faith” haunt rather than encourage us (Matt. 8:26 NIV). We look at people like Gideon: The Lord appointed him to save Israel from the Midianites, and he asked God to confirm this calling three times. (See Judges 6.) If he’d had greater faith, he would have obeyed God’s call from the beginning, right? And yet the Lord participated in Gideon’s tests: His fire consumed the meat and unleavened bread. He soaked the fleece on dry land, and He dried the fleece on soaked land. If Gideon’s “weak faith” is a cautionary tale, why didn’t God respond to him with fury, or even apathy? Why not respond like the angel Gabriel, who made Zechariah mute for not believing his words (Luke 1:18-20)?

But the Lord who visited Gideon is the same Lord who agonized over death in Gethsemane. Dr. Stanley reminds us in his book Emotions:

Many of us learn that our uncertainty is an indicator of weak faith, and Jesus’ words “you of little faith” haunt rather than encourage us.

Scripture tells us that [Jesus] prayed not once, nor twice—but He sought the Father three times during that terrible hour. If the perfect, sinless Son of the Living God—God Himself—went repeatedly to the throne of grace for comfort as He faced such devastating emotions, what does that say to us? Not only are those feelings a reality to all of us, but we can and should go often to the Father’s arms for compassion, mercy, and consolation.

If Jesus could wrestle through God’s plans for His life and death, why couldn’t Gideon? Why must we make a judgment on the quality of faith when we read about Gideon’s process—or my friend’s, for that matter?

When I picture God playing Gideon’s games of dewy and dry fleece, I see the gentle kindness of a Father who’s both intimately familiar with what it means to be an insecure human and acquainted with every circumstance that leads to our doubt. While we might be more inclined to judge, God is inclined to show mercy. Not only does He let us push up against His Word to see it stand, but He is also present and patient as we do so.

It should come as no surprise, then, how Jesus receives “doubting Thomas.” Not yet having seen the resurrected Savior, Thomas declares, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). We’ve assigned him a reputation like Gideon’s, but it’s hard for me to fault a man for being skeptical of a resurrection.

And I wonder if Jesus is thinking that, too, looking at Thomas. In this moment, the Lord has fully experienced what it means to be human and can understand not only the unbelievability of His risen self but also the limits of man’s knowledge. Maybe Jesus was even remembering His own pleas in the garden of Gethsemane and that visceral need for His Father’s confirmation. So He invites Thomas to do the very thing he asked: “Place your finger here, and see My hands; and take your hand and put it into My side; and do not continue in disbelief, but be a believer” (John 20:27). It is a compassionate God who sees insecurity and addresses it head-on.

I want to tell my friend there is a difference between testing God because we’re scared and want to be sure, and doing so because we don’t believe who He says He is. The Lord knows which side of that fine line we’re speaking from every time we push for clarity, confirmation, and assurance. When the path forward makes no sense to us, He remembers that His ways are higher than ours—He is neither surprised nor offended by questions from an earnest heart. What’s more, He may even be pleased when we bring Him our uncertainties, leaving the honor of resolution and comfort to Him alone.

God is neither surprised nor offended by questions from an earnest heart.

After being invited to touch the Savior’s wounds, Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” and Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, have you now believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:28-29). Until now, I’ve always read within this response the opposite implication: that because Thomas believed after seeing, he was not blessed. But Jesus didn’t say that at all. In fact, Thomas received a great blessing that day—the perfect comfort and security from His Creator who knew his spirit better than anyone. We’ve been promised the same—that all who come to Jesus confused and unsure will find assurance in Him.


Illustration by Adam Cruft

Related Topics:  Doubt

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26 He said to them, Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

1 Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.

2 The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.

3 For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them.

4 So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey.

5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it.

6 So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.

7 Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian,

8 that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, `It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery.

9 I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land,

10 and I said to you, I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me."'"

11 Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites.

12 The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior."

13 Then Gideon said to him, O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, `Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian."

14 The LORD looked at him and said, Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?"

15 He said to Him, O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house."

16 But the LORD said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man."

17 So Gideon said to Him, If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.

18 Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You." And He said, I will remain until you return."

19 Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them.

20 The angel of God said to him, Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so.

21 Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.

22 When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face."

23 The LORD said to him, Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die."

24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 Now on the same night the LORD said to him, Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it;

26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down."

27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night.

28 When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was torn down, and the Asherah which was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar which had been built.

29 They said to one another, Who did this thing?" And when they searched about and inquired, they said, Gideon the son of Joash did this thing."

30 Then the men of the city said to Joash, Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal, and indeed, he has cut down the Asherah which was beside it."

31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? Whoever will plead for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar."

32 Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, Let Baal contend against him," because he had torn down his altar.

33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the sons of the east assembled themselves; and they crossed over and camped in the valley of Jezreel.

34 So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him.

35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they also were called together to follow him; and he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet them.

36 Then Gideon said to God, If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken,

37 behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken."

38 And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground."

40 God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.

18 Zacharias said to the angel, How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."

19 The angel answered and said to him, I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

25 So the other disciples were saying to him, We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

27 Then He said to Thomas, Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

28 Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!"

29 Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

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