Thomas’ And Our Struggle With Doubt
June 2, 2020
All the chaos in our nation has me thinking. We started out with Covid as our focus and have suddenly switched to scenes of anger, violence and rioting. What a difference a few days make. Isn’t that life though? It always seems to go this way. You know, the old “when it rains it pours” theory! Yet keep in mind that once the season of quietness and goodness returns, it will come in like rain and pour over us a marvelous season that will quench our souls. I’m sure you’d agree that we are all ready for such a time!
As I went to bed last night thinking about all the unsettling things happening (not in some far-off city or state, but very close to my and my children’s homes), my mind began to wander. That is never a good thing!
As unsettling as all I had read and seen on the news, the Spirit of God reminded me of a time that brought terror. When it happened, I allowed the circumstances to overtake my emotions. It brought anxiety and sleepless nights accompanied with a fear that kept me looking out my windows all night long. Did I have a legitimate reason to be afraid? Absolutely! Yet I allowed the fear to consume me. There is so much truth behind the old saying that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear itself is the bigger enemy than whatever is going on in our life.
One evening when my children were young my husband and I went out to dinner. As we were eating, we received a call from the baby sitter, which caused us to immediately pay and run out of the restaurant. A man had come to the front door of our home. He didn’t knock, just fiddled with the door handle, apparently trying to get in. He stood there quite some time and eventually he walked away. I soon found out from a neighbor that earlier the neighbor had seen several men in my backyard jumping the fence. As if this wasn’t bad enough, what unfolded in the next few days quickly controlled my every thought.
That same week I received a letter in the mail. It was labeled with my home address but with another person’s name in place of mine. To my horror, the return address was a state prison. The writer of the letter said he was being released and coming home. None of this made any sense, although I concluded this all had to somehow be related to the strangers who had visited my home earlier in the week. The next day an investigator came to my home. He was looking for this man who had been released from jail and he believed the ex-con’s mother used to live on my street. It was all starting to come together. But it was what I heard next that sent me reeling. Whispering so that my children wouldn’t hear, he said, “Ma’am, this man is part of an extremely dangerous gang. Be careful.” As he handed me his card, he went on to say, “Call me immediately if you see him.”
I can’t make this strange story up! As the investigator pulled out of my driveway, I mustered up all the courage I had to keep a calm demeanor for my children, yet I was frantic with fear. It didn’t take long to create scenarios in my head of all the horrific possibilities this could lead to. In the moments and days to come, did I doubt God’s promises to keep us safe? Did I think more about the “what ifs” rather than the “I AM?” Sadly, I did.
Yet eventually it faded away with time. We all remained safe and sound. Once again my faith was tested, and once again God proved that I can always count on Him to get me through any situation.
I believe it is safe to say it is completely human to feel beaten down by this fallen world. However last night I needed to quickly remind myself that God’s truth always silences fear. If I should lie awake in fear of what’s to come, I must ask myself if the root of my frightened and doubtful spirit is a lack of faith in God’s power, or a lack of trust in God’s plan. If I were to truthfully answer this, I would say YES without hesitation that I have faith in God’s almighty power. Yet at times I fail to trust in His plan. Why is that? The answer is simple: His ways are higher than ours! Only He can see the bigger picture. Our narrow perspective can only take us so far. That’s when we need to put our trust in full gear, and lay any hint of doubt aside.
Poor Thomas went down in history for being a doubter. In his defense, let me say that I can certainly relate!
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “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.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” And He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” And Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”
What I love the most about this passage is the mercy that God displays towards Thomas. God knew Thomas; He knew that His precious child needed proof. Jesus is such a loving God that He met Thomas in his moment of need, which guided him back to faith. Isn’t that just like our loving Savior? I think we can all remind ourselves of seasons that we thought we would never get through, moments that paralyzed us with fear and doubt. Yet the God of this world in all His wisdom met us with validation of His love and protection.
As we are looking at the decline of society as we know it, we must take Jesus’ words to heart to stop doubting and believe. We need to believe in His perfect plan. Rather than looking at our current situation through a lens of fear, we need to view it as an opportunity for Christ to prove Himself in a fallen world and believe in His promise of protection for our loved ones. In John 20, I wonder why scripture emphasized that the doors were locked when Jesus came and stood among the apostles? Do you suppose it’s to point out there is not one thing we can or cannot do that would keep Jesus out of our lives? No human effort can separate Him from us. Or perhaps it’s a metaphor for a closed heart, one that’s become filled with fear, anxiety, or depression, yet there He is standing with us offering His peace.
The Bible is meant to show us our human frailty, highlighting both the positive as well as the negative. Jesus graciously used Thomas’ example for our benefit. In verse 25, the words Thomas declares, “Unless I see…I will not believe” contrast with the words from Mark’s gospel, “I believe, Lord, help me with my unbelief.” May we all pray for the Lord’s mercy upon us when we doubt Him, and may He help us believe in His perfect plan, regardless of what our eyes see. The day will come when we will see with perfect eyesight His glorious master plan come full circle, and fear and doubt will no longer be! Praise God!
I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Say to those with fearful hearts, be strong, do not fear, your God will come. He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Though fear still may be present, we need to make a choice to not let it grip us and to never let it take control over our minds and hearts. God is greater than anything we are afraid of. He is bigger than anything we face. Pray His promises, believe them to be true and live a fearless life so that we may be victorious. He is the great I AM.
Delighting in safe pasture,