Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Call Me Thomas

You remember the disciple Thomas, right? He's the one who will be forever known as "Doubting Thomas." I'm guessing that he probably regretted those doubts and would cringe at the thought that his name is forever associated with doubt.

After Jesus' resurrection, the other disciples came running back to where they were all staying and excitedly proclaimed that they had seen the risen Lord. Thomas (he must be the pragmatic one) said he would not believe such a thing unless he could actually see the imprint of the nails in His hands or actually put his hand into Jesus' side. That was more than doubt he was expressing. He simply did not believe. In today's vernacular he might have said, You all are nuts. You're just overcome with grief and now you're seeing things. That might have been a fair assessment in a normal situation. But this was not a normal situation.

Eight days later Jesus actually appeared to His disciples to give them some final words. Thomas was there. Jesus knew about Thomas' doubts. In an act of kindness, Jesus offers Thomas the opportunity to put his hands into His side or to touch the nail-scarred hands.

Eight days later the disciples were together again, 
and this time Thomas was with them. 
The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, 
Jesus was standing among them.  
“Peace be with you,” he said.  Then he said to Thomas, 
“Put your finger here, and look at my hands. 
Put your hand into the wound in my side. 
Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
~John 20: 26-28

Jesus encourages Thomas to believe. Jesus knew Thomas very well and what it would take to convince him. Notice that the Scripture does not say that Thomas actually touched Jesus. Apparently just the sight of Jesus and perhaps the sound of His voice was enough to convince him of the truth. Thomas doubted no more.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. 
Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” 
~John 20: 29

Jesus doesn't berate Thomas for his doubts. He was very patient with Thomas and gave him some visual aid. John and Peter were the disciples who believed without seeing and Jesus said they were blessed because of that faith.

It's so easy to look at Thomas and dismiss him with a "tsk, tsk." Or, as they say in the south, "Bless His Heart."  But really, if you were in that situation, wouldn't you be skeptical?

Some events in my life during recent months have caused me to doubt--a lot. I doubted my thoughts. I doubted God. I doubted others. I doubted my feelings. If it could be doubted, I probably did it. I didn't really believe God had been directing my path and that's why everything was messed up. I must have gotten my signals crossed. Maybe I'd done something wrong? What happened, Lord?

Scripture helped but I still harbored doubts. I'm a visual learner. Show me how to do something, don't just tell me. The Lord knows this about me. In his kindness and mercy, He began to give me visual cues to show me He was listening, that He cared greatly, and that I had not "messed up." Everything was under His control and all part of His plan. Now each time the doubts begin to creep back into my thinking, God gives me a visual cue. In fact, it's the same cue every single time. It's a simple reminder of God's faithfulness and tender mercy. Although I cannot touch His nail-scarred hand, God gives me something very unique to see which reminds me of Him. Sometimes it brings a tear to my eye and other times it makes me giggle. (No, I'm not telling what it is.)

Yes, I would be more blessed if I could believe without seeing. But God created me this way and He takes that into account. Maybe one day I'll be a Peter or John and believe without seeing. But for now...

Call me Thomas. 

I'm still blessed.


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