Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20: 28
Listen: Mikeschair, "Someone Worth Dying For"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akdAuWG1QuQ
Poor Thomas, the Apostle. He’s gotten such a bad rap over the centuries. We call people a “doubting Thomas” (named after the apostle) if they refuse to believe without proof in hand. Thomas was the holdout – he wasn't there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. Thomas refused to take them on their word that Jesus was raised, insisting: “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.” (John 20: 24-29). Jesus obliges Thomas: he appears later that week, goes Thomas and encourages him to touch his scarred hands and side – “stop doubting and believe!” Jesus says.
Some think doubt is the opposite of faith. I disagree. Think of Thomas when he was with Jesus on his way to Bethany to raise Lazarus. Knowing Jesus would be entering hostile territory, near those who wanted to kill him, Thomas replies, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16). Later in Jesus’ Great Discourse at the Last Supper where Jesus describes the heavenly home that he was going to prepare for them, Thomas interrupts with the question on everyone’s heart: "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (John 14:5). This doesn’t sound like someone who is uncommitted. Thomas’ doubt came from a place of someone who did believe in Jesus and did not hesitate to follow him, even when the going was dangerous, or he didn't understand. In fact legend tells us that Thomas traveled the furthest of the apostles, bringing the gospel to Southern India.
I agree with those who say the opposite of faith is not doubt but fear. When we are fearful, we see danger everywhere. We feel threatened by challenges and worries. We become stuck in our anxiety, unable to move forward or through what lies ahead of us. Doubt may leave us paralyzed to a degree, but true doubt asks questions, ponders, explores. Fear on the other hand puts us in “fight or flight” mode. Unchallenged fear leaves us stuck in our darkest thoughts, blind to the light. That’s one of the reasons the angels and the Risen Lord tell the disciples: Do not fear! Or greets them with “Peace be with you.” But Thomas wasn't afraid. His faith was shaken, which happens to all of us when we face situations beyond our control and we can figure out through reason alone.
Perhaps the Easter season finds you with doubts or fears. I have never met any faithful person who doesn’t have their story of doubt, fear, or a scarring experience. The Risen Jesus breaths peace, and shows us how to find faith and peace in the scarred places of our lives. When we let doubt or fear paralyze us – Jesus says, “I’ve been scarred too. Let me show you how to rise up through it.”
It took a lot of courage for Thomas to hold his ground with his fellow disciples. Note that Jesus did not belittle or criticize Thomas. Jesus went right to Thomas, sharing his wounds. So this Easter season, let Jesus transform your faith, answer your doubts, give your strength through your fears. Touch the wounds of Jesus – and let him touch yours. Remember Jesus has faith in you and will lead you to the ways to address any doubt, and more important, give you strength to face any fear.
What fears are plaguing my life, hampering my faith?
What doubts do I have? How can my doubts be a catalyst for my faith instead of a hindrance? What do my wounds, and the wounds of Christ, teach my about the life of faith?
Pray: "Risen Jesus, my Lord and my God, work through my doubts, my fears, my wounds, and lead me to a Resurrected faith that brings life to the world."