But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
I think the disciple Thomas gets a bad rap. “Doubting” Thomas is just a thing people say these days, right? That’s all the dude’s ever known for. Name one other thing he did or said in the Bible, I dare you. I always have to look it up too.
But I like Thomas. I identify with Thomas in a lot of ways. And I like that Thomas was honest about his doubts. What he did with his doubts was important. He could have stayed away and shut himself off in disbelief. Instead he was open to investigating and learning. He went back to the disciples, saw Jesus, learned more, and came to believe.
In Thomas we see two things: sometimes faith isn’t automatic… but doubt shouldn’t be the end of the story.
Jesus let Thomas get the information he needed to believe, and he didn’t condemn him for having a less-than-automatic faith. He only said “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Even though a strength of wisdom and faith and conviction like that is laudable, he didn’t rap Thomas’s knuckles or dock his pay or kick him out of the Apostles’ Club just because he wanted a second look.
Thomas needed to see in order to believe; he didn’t trust the voice of faith in his heart. And that’s okay… that’s human. Sometimes we have doubts. Sometimes we even doubt things that are right in front of our faces. But, he didn’t shut it out just because he couldn’t believe it immediately. He approached the source of his doubts with an open mind, and came to believe. In fact, he was the first to call Jesus “My Lord and my God.” His faith was stronger for the journey that took him from doubt to belief.
Faith isn’t always automatic, but doubt shouldn’t be the end of the line. When we doubt something, we’re not sure we can believe it… we shouldn’t stop there! Go forward with an open mind, seeking to learn more. Engage those doubts actively. Perhaps you’ll find your doubts were founded, and you can confidently close the book. But perhaps, like Thomas, you’ll learn your doubts were wrong all along. You’ll come to believe, and your belief will be stronger for the journey.
Exercise: Try to make a homemade version of one of your favorite “restaurant-only” meals. Something you love to eat but you’ve never made for yourself. Figure out what makes it tick.
Prayer: Unmoved Mover, Eternal Creator, grant me the insight to understand the things I don’t, the peace to trust you when faced with the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Song I’m listening to these days: “Got to Be More Careful,” by Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.