From Pauses for Pentecost
Jesus said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe.”
Most of us experience doubt in our journeys with God at one time or another. Doubt enters our lives through many different doorways. It could be through repeated disappointment, unanswered prayer, or an intellectual struggle with the reality of the invisible realm. For many of us, however, it is through the doorway of suffering that doubt enters. Our own suffering, the suffering of a loved one, or immeasurable pain in the world around us can affect our faith. Right now, you may be struggling with doubt.
Thomas represents those of us whose faith has been shaken by doubt. His story shows us that when we acknowledge our doubt honestly, it can lead us into a deeper faith. Read about him again in John’s gospel. (See John 20:24-29). Notice how Jesus reaches out to help Thomas believe. There is no condemnation whatsoever. Rather, as we see in today’s verse, Jesus offers Thomas evidence that encourages him to move beyond his doubt. Eventually, Thomas takes his step of faith and confesses before Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” (John 20:28).
Obviously we are not given the same powerful evidence that Thomas receives. But many experiences help us move beyond our doubt. First, we live in a world of overwhelming beauty and intricate structure that nothing produced by human beings can match. Then, there is our own experience of ourselves, our sense of right or wrong, that invites explanation. Most of all, there is the radical change that happens in those early disciples after the Crucifixion. Something must have happened to transform their fear into boldness, their despair into hope, their disbelief into trust. How else can we explain it?
None of these reasons give us total proof. However, they do bring us to what Kallistos Ware calls, “the threshold of faith.” Like Thomas, we too need to take the step of faith. And when we do, we will discover the reality of Christ present and alive in our own experience.
Write down your own confession of faith in Jesus today. Use your own words, not Thomas’s words. What are the words or images that come into your mind when you think of the meaning of Jesus for yourself? After you have done this, take Thomas’s words with you into the day and repeat them as often as you can.