Confession time: I’ve always looked down on the disciple Thomas.
But after reading through John 20 recently, my regard for him has changed.
When the other disciples saw Jesus, talked with Him, ate with Him . . . Thomas was missing in action.
Then, when the other disciples declared they’d seen Jesus—alive—he poo-poohed them, declaring he’d only believe if he could put his fingers in Jesus’ nail wounds, in the slice in His side.
Imagine how isolating that following week must have been for Thomas. All the other disciples must’ve been talking about Jesus, wondering when they would see Him again . . . and perhaps Thomas stood off to the side, shaking his head at their crazy words. Because, of course, no one can raise himself from the dead.
Did he isolate himself from those crazy men he’d spent three years with? Did he disdain their pity because he just didn’t know what he didn’t know?
How did he feel and respond knowing he didn’t believe the same as the other disciples?
His doubting spirit still pervades today’s society, even in churches. Thomas wasn’t the originator of doubt, but his story is one of the most well-known in the Bible.
It took Jesus’ gentle chastening of him because of his unbelief.
It took the Savior holding out his nail-scarred wrist for Thomas . . .
. . . Jesus almost demanding that Thomas place his hand in the wound on His abdomen, just below His heart.
I wonder if Thomas was shamed by his unbelief, if he felt horrible for not believing the other disciples?
But . . . this:
Once Thomas believed, he was transformed. He shared the gospel powerfully in other lands . . . because he believed.
Yes, Jesus had to show Thomas His wounds so that the apostle would believe. Jesus blessed those who believed without needing physical proof.
And yet . . .
Jesus came after Thomas. He showed the man beyond a doubt that He was, indeed, very much alive. And when Thomas believed, he called Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
He was all in for his Lord.
This is what Thomas needed so he’d be prepared to carry out the work Jesus had for him.
Once he believed, it’s said Thomas traveled to the Far East and shared the gospel, as far away as India. He died a martyr’s death. He may have been the first one who brought the gospel of peace to that part of the world.
And none of it would have happened had Jesus not met Thomas in his place of doubt.
I love that our Lord loves us enough to meet us where we are, to chasten us when needed, and to affirm His faithfulness and love for us.
Let’s be honest. We’ve all walked through (or are walking through) seasons of doubt. When we expected God to show up in a hard circumstance in our lives and He didn’t? That encourages doubt.
When we’ve yearned for something, prayed earnestly for it, and God delays answering? Doubt steps in to discourage and cause us to distance ourselves from our Father.
When circumstances from all areas of our lives continue to pile onto our emotional/spiritual shoulders, we feel the weight of uncertainty. We attempt to stand up under all of them, but the burden bears down hard.
There are times when we’re disappointed in how God handles a situation that’s close to our hearts. This fuels doubt.
But Jesus has a way of meeting each of us in that place. He loves His own. And even though we doubt, His love remains steadfast.
Thomas was given evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.
I wonder if, sometimes, we need to ask for His reassurance that He is with us? He holds us in the palm of His hands.
Nothing slips into our lives without first being filtered through the Father’s love.
But, when we doubt, we need to bring that to Him, confess it. And trust that He will show up.
When God reminds us of His faithfulness, doubt weakens as confidence in Jesus grows. He can use our doubting seasons to draw us into deeper relationship with Him, to equip us for callings He has or will give us, and to remind us of just how much He loves us.
Thomas received the moniker “Doubting Thomas” but, I think he was faithful to Jesus, even in his uncertainty.
What about you? When has doubt crippled you in your walk with Jesus? How do you overcome doubt?