Some of the strongest believers I've ever met—whether in person or on the page—were at one time struggling unbelievers: C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and Francis Collins, to name a few. They show us that doubt can lead to vibrant faith. This was even true of some of the men who were closest to Jesus. The disciples doubted the reports of His resurrection at first, especially Thomas. Even John the Baptist—whom Jesus called the greatest man ever born of a woman (see Matthew 11:11)—wondered if Jesus was the Messiah.
John had nothing but praise for the Messiah he was tasked to proclaim. He knew that the Messiah was preferred before him, that he was unworthy even to untie the guy's sandals, and by the Jordan, he recognized Jesus was "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
However, by the time Jesus' ministry got going, John had been imprisoned and was dealing with some doubts about Jesus' identity. So he sent two of his own disciples to ask Jesus if He was indeed the Coming One. Jesus told them to tell John to look at what Jesus was doing: "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matthew 11:5).
On the other hand was the disciple Thomas. A bit of an Eeyore by nature, he wasn't present the first time Jesus appeared post-resurrection to the disciples, and he refused to believe that Jesus had really risen (see John 20:25). Jesus' response was to show up eight days later and invite this doubting disciple to check out the scars in His hands and side. When Thomas saw Jesus, he offered the ultimate praise: "My Lord and my God!" (v. 28). Thomas gets a bad rap, but I admire that he was honest about his doubts.
Here's the thing about Thomas and John: both of them dealt with doubt because both of them had unfulfilled expectations. John wondered when Jesus was finally going to bring the kingdom of God to earth. But Jesus was working on a much different timetable than John expected. And Thomas thought that there was no way Jesus would die after all the amazing things He had done and said. He thought it was all over.
When Jesus invited Thomas to check out the evidence of His resurrection, He also offered him this admonition: "Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (v. 29).
At some point, we have to decide what to do with our doubts. We have to be willing to explore the evidence for faith in Christ—to investigate the Scriptures, talk with and read the experts, and then go where the evidence leads us. We may have certain expectations, but we have to be willing to lay them aside in the face of what we learn about Jesus. Then every single one of us has a choice to make: If Jesus really is the risen Son of God, will I receive Him as my Lord and Savior?