Do You Doubt God?
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (Luke 1:18-20)
What will I do if an angel appears and tells me that my prayers are about to be answered? Will I leap for joy and praise God? Will I pee in my pants as I tremble in fear? Or perhaps in this day and age, take a ‘wefie’ with him and post it up on Instagram?
That was exactly what Zechariah experienced, and he responded by asking the angel, “How can I be sure of this?” In questioning the angel, he was questioning the One who sent the angel. In asking for a sign, he showed his doubt in God. Did he doubt God’s ability? Or did he doubt God’s love?
Zechariah added, “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years”. Many questions must have run through his mind when he said that. Doesn’t God know that it is beyond our ability at our age? Why didn’t God hear our prayers earlier? Why does God choose to answer our prayers now, after we’ve already given up hope?
Doubting God’s Ability
The tension in the air was palpable. The angel wasn’t about to let Zechariah get away with questioning God. His reply to Zechariah provided all the answers required. Zechariah had said, “I am an old man”, and the angel’s response was, “I am Gabriel”. And as if the contrast between a frail old man and a powerful angel wasn’t enough, Gabriel added, “I stand in the presence of God”. Yes, I know you’re old. I know it’s beyond your ability. But it is not about you and what you can or cannot do. God can.
Zechariah was a priest, and he was leading the people in worship at that time. He was well drilled on all the rites, rituals and festivals, and knew what they symbolised. He was educated on the scriptures from a young age, and was familiar with all the incredible stories of what God had done for His people. Zechariah of all people should know that God is all-powerful. Yet he focused on his own ability (or rather lack of it), instead of God’s.
We are not unfamiliar with God either. We’ve read the Bible and learnt from numerous sermons and lessons. We’ve heard the good news that many have shared about the triumphs they’ve won through God. We’ve experienced some victories too. Just look at the oceans, or the mountains, or think about the universe, and we’ll be reminded of God’s omnipotence. But despite knowing in our minds that God is powerful, this fact doesn’t always register in our hearts.
We often measure the possibility of a task or the difficulty of an obstacle with our own ability to solve them. Do I have the time? But God is beyond time. Do I have the strength and skills? You may not have them, but God does. Do not doubt God’s ability.
Doubting God’s Love
Gabriel said, “I have been sent to you to tell you this good news”. This was amazing news. It was proof that God heard his prayers and even gave him more than he asked for. Shouldn’t Zechariah have responded with joy and gratitude for God’s love? Zechariah asked for proof instead, and he was struck dumb for a period, till John the Baptist was born.
His wife Elizabeth, on the other hand, was grateful for God’s love as she praised, “The Lord has done this for me… He has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:25). She saw what God did out of love for her.
God wants to do amazing things for us and He wants to show us his favour too. He loves us.
We often allow our unanswered prayers to shake our confidence in God’s love, forgetting that He has already given us far more than we deserve. The most important and valuable thing we need, our salvation, has already been generously gifted to us. If you were to meet a boy who got upset with his dad for not buying him candy, after his dad had given him a million dollars, what would you say to the boy? All the things we regard as important – our health, jobs, families, friends and the many other things we hold dear – pale in comparison to the surpassing glory of Heaven.
Our salvation is only made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus. If Jesus loves you enough to die for you, what else would he not be willing to do for you?
Do you doubt God’s ability? Or do you doubt His love?
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".