This week’s scripture lesson is one of my favorite Biblical accounts. It is the story of the disciple Thomas, who somehow missed the first appearance of Jesus after his resurrection to the disciples. The other disciples told him that they had seen Jesus, and he had been resurrected. But Thomas responded with words that ring across the ages, words that echo the doubts of many thinking people.
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” From this line of “ I have to see it to believe it” thought we have the term “Doubting Thomas” to refer to a skeptical person.
A week later, the disciples again find themselves locked in a room, afraid of persecution or arrest. Although the scripture tells us that the doors to the room were locked, Jesus appears, standing in their midst. His first words were, “Peace be with you.”
But then he singles out Thomas and demands that he step forward. “Put your finger in my wound, see my hands, reach out and touch me. Do not doubt, believe,” Jesus demands of Thomas. And with those words, Thomas immediately recognizes Jesus and says, “My Lord and My God.” And Jesus responds, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have come to believe.”
The beauty in this story for me is in Jesus’ love for Thomas – even in his doubt. By Jesus’ compassion for Thomas, Jesus acknowledges that deep faith requires perseverance; it requires attention to both the head and the heart, and it takes time.
Faith In Doubt
I have come to accept that I am a person who relies heavily on my brain and who uses reason and logic to solve many of the dilemmas of life. I have to ask my questions and express my doubts, and then I can usually find a way to believe. For me, faith has become an ability to live the questions, to stand in the uncertainty, to hold on to what I know is accurate, and to focus on what it is I do believe.
It is so much easier to articulate what we do not believe – but mature faith is speaking about what we do believe that fits in our box of logic and reason and those that do not.
The topic of the post-Easter season is the resurrection. That is why we read the story of Thomas every year after the story of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.
Like Thomas, we wonder: Did Jesus literally become resurrected? Or did someone move the body, steal the body, or take the body of Jesus away for a proper burial? Like the story that the soldiers and religious leaders came up with that fit into everyone’s box of logic and reason, they knew it would be accepted.
One of the reasons the Church doesn’t like questions and open doubt is that it requires answers, and not all of them can fit into our box of logic and reason. They require an element of faith – Hebrews 11:1 The substance of things hoped for – The evidence of things not seen. BUT – faith is not complicated; it is yet simple, and we complicate it when we try to solve matters of God with our logic and reason.
Some people do not need to see to believe. People who have heard the old stories and imprinted them on their hearts.
As we grow older and navigate our way through more and more of life’s circumstances, we tend to get a better long-term view of God’s plan and His love and faithfulness to us. It is why we see many of the older members of our congregations to be so well rooted and read in the Bible (often knowing them better than pastors and SS teachers). They have lived and seen lived so many life experiences where faith was proven out that in their minds, it is just TRUTH.
Yes – Truth not True as in a one-time event that was either True or False …
Truth speaks to a way of life, a belief, a place of character and actions. Ever heard something relayed to you that someone said, and you responded with, “that doesn’t sound like them …” why? Because you know they lie, and that action does not speak from the life you know of them.
Truth allows us to not just look at events but the whole picture as a TRUTH. That Truth is simply put, FAITH.
I continue to ponder the miracle of the resurrection. I still live its question; I continue to wonder about how it might have happened.
But theologically, I know that resurrection is Truth. Resurrection faith is our assertion that life is stronger than death, that love is stronger than hate, that hope is stronger than despair, and that justice will overcome evil.
I take great comfort in the word of St. Paul to the Church in Rome that there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God. There is no tragedy, no difficulty, no disaster, no loss, no sin, no doubt, no mistake, no human act that God cannot redeem. That is resurrection faith, and that is what I know, body, mind, and spirit, to be the Truth.
We live in the paradox of faith and doubt. God is ok with that, and it actually fits in His plan. Doubt moves us to ask questions, and if we have questions, our spirits are open and looking for answers.
May God open our spirits to the spirit of His Word so that our faith will allow us to believe the message of His spirit even when we cannot see it.
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