“A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:26 – 29
We are in the Easter season and on the first Sunday after Easter, the lectionary readings will include the passage of scripture on Thomas. We tend to think of this disciple as the doubting disciple since he would not believe the others when they told him they had seen Jesus alive. Now to be honest, I think we give Thomas a bad rap. Because to be honest, I am not sure I would have believed them if I were told by my friends that they had seen Jesus alive after his crucifixion. I would have said pretty much what Thomas is reported to have said. If we were all honest, I think we would all be more like Thomas as hearing Jesus was alive would be incredulous news at the very least.
And thing is when you read other passages that have an interaction with this doubting disciple, you will see a picture of a brave man, not a doubting one. So, I think, it is ok to doubt, to ask questions. We have given doubts a bad rap just as we have given one to Thomas. God seems to want us to wrestle with our faith and to ask the hard questions. Because when we do, we gain two things. First we come away with a stronger faith and a better knowledge of what we believe and why. Second, we are able to defend our faith and answer the “why” questions when others ask them. We are able to present God to others based on what God has done for us. Which, to be honest, is the only way to really let others know about God. Because we can’t answer the question: “What will God do for someone else.” What God will do for each person is unique to each person. What God has done for me may not be what God will do for you or anyone else. That is the great thing about God. He works in each person’s life the way each person needs him.
So, if you catch yourself being a little…or a lot…like Thomas…and you have doubts and questions, I want you to know that is ok. Wrestle with your doubts. Join a bible study in your local church, talk with someone you trust about God and other biblical questions. And know you are not alone. Even pastors have doubts. We don’t know all the answers to all the questions the Biblical text generates. On top of that, there is a mystery to our faith in God. We can’t know all the answers. Maybe we aren’t supposed to. I mean, even Paul admitted he only saw through a glass dimly…for now at least. There will come a time when all our questions will be answered. And remember, and this is critical: Doubt is not the opposite of faith…unbelief is. Doubts push us to seek answers. Unbelief asks us to walk away from our faith.
So, for all you who find yourselves in a season of doubt, or at least a season filled with a lot of questions, it is ok. You are not a bad person. Your faith isn’t weak. Like everyone else, you are just in a season that is filled with questions…it is a season that when you allow yourself to dig into what you are experiencing and dig into the questions that are forming, it will lead you to a deeper life of faith. I sometimes think that is what our doubts are all about. They lead us closer to God when we allow ourselves to discover what our doubts are pushing us to uncover.
I believe it is also important to know that doubts come in all shapes and sizes. We can have intellectual doubts. Doubts that deal with our certainty about facts. We can have spiritual doubts that deal with matters of faith. And we can have circumstantial doubts. Doubts that deal with the “whys” of life. In all our doubts we are searching for concrete answers…but like I stated above…sometimes we will never get a concrete answer because the glass we are looking through is too dim. Those are the times when we need to put our doubts to rest and be assured that the answer is not for us to know…at least at this present time. The big thing to take away here is: don’t let your doubts overcome you living your best life. Sometimes we have to let them go. Sometimes we don’t have enough information for clarity. Sometimes we will get an answer and sometimes we won’t. That is just the way doubts are. Which may explain why we are so uncomfortable with our doubts.
May this Eastertide season bring you many blessings!