For me summer is often a time of reconsidering. A new routine, new people, an opportunity to reinvent myself. It’s a time of comparison which makes me wonder: Did I take the right job? Travel adventurously enough? Or caption my pictures well? It makes me doubt whether or not God has me right where he wants me.
Belief doesn’t come easily for me. I’m the exact combination of stubborn and skeptical that leads to commitment issues. Yet I have committed myself to full-time ministry in a religion that says by faith you will be saved. It’s pretty inconvenient.
Growing up in a Christian household, I know a lot of people with my upbringing that have never doubted the existence of God -- and that is beautiful. It wasn’t that simple for me. It seemed that year after year I would come back to the same questions: Is God real? Why am I pretending this is true? If the God of the Bible speaks to people and leads them into great stories, how did we end up here? There were times where I simply couldn’t get myself to believe.
But doubt isn’t always this dramatic. Sometimes I just doubt if God really cares about me. I doubt if how God asks us to live is really best. Sometimes I wonder if God is withholding a better life from me. The Bible says it is God who gives us faith, did he forget to give it to me?
Jesus was raised from the dead and came to see the disciples. He showed them where the nails had pierced his hands and sides. But Thomas missed out. Today's passage explores how Thomas deals with his doubt.
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Why does Thomas react so strongly to the disciples’ reports of Jesus’ resurrection?
- How do you think Thomas felt hearing the disciples talk about seeing Jesus?
- What do you think about Thomas as he voices his disbelief?
- How do you think Thomas felt when Jesus addressed him so specifically?
- What is Jesus saying about belief in v. 29? What does this passage tell us about faith & doubt?
My whole life I've tried to avoid doubt. When thoughts flashed through my mind, I ignored them. I thought if I didn’t engage, it would go away. In my experience avoiding the wound of disbelief doesn’t heal it.
The story of doubting Thomas gives me hope that Jesus doesn’t want me to live with my unbelief. He wants to answer it.
A friend prayed for me recently and asked that my doubt would be redeemed as my greatest gift. My friend asked that I would know things more deeply for having questioned them. Jesus knew exactly what Thomas needed to believe. He didn’t forget about Thomas when he originally went to see the disciples. He loved Thomas enough to go back for him.
Each season of incredible doubt in my life has ended after I finally named my doubts and told God what I needed in order to believe. Sometimes immediately, sometimes months later, God has shown up in my seemingly locked heart to answer my plea and help me believe.
Whatever your doubts may be, wherever you have not been able to trust Jesus, take time to tell him the truth. Tell him what you need from him to believe. Wait patiently for him to answer. He wants to give you what you need.
Where do you doubt God’s truth? Do you believe God wants to respond to your doubt? What do you need from God to believe?