Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” John 20:24-29 (CEB)
To doubt everything, or, to believe everything, are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection. – Henri Poincare
We’ve all heard the expression, “Doubting Thomas,” which is based on the Apostle Thomas’ experience with Jesus in John 20:24-29. Jesus had appeared to the others, but when He did, Thomas wasn’t there. As a result, Thomas refused to believe the others had seen Jesus. He wanted the ultimate, tangible proof that Jesus was, indeed, alive again. Today we tend to cast judgment on Thomas for this action, thinking, “How could Thomas have doubted such a thing?” The truth of the matter is…we do exactly what Thomas did, all the time.
Thomas didn’t just fail to understand the teaching of Jesus, which He had acquired by walking, talking with, and sharing with Him all that time. Thomas also failed to accept the testimony of his brothers and sisters. He didn’t just doubt Jesus, he also doubted those who came and gave him report. Why? I believe it is easier to, when faced with situations that might call for discernment, to doubt everything and everyone, basing that call on “sound judgment” than by truly assessing situations and taking the time to listen to others.
So many today claim to be believers, and, of that number, so many still claim to be called to ministry, yet most have one thing in common: disbelief. They don’t believe it unless they see it and they don’t want to hear anything that might cause them to reach out, extend out, or help…because disbelief is easy. As long as one remains in a place of “I’ll believe it when it’s here,” they don’t have to step out and do much…except believe.
But pay careful attention to Jesus’ words: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe.” Seeing yet believing does not just come from nothing – it often comes from testimony. This lack of acceptance when it comes to testimony has hurt our witness as believers and our witness to something that is true, greater than us, and can help the problems and issues people have in this world. We doubt everything because it’s easier than sorting things out. Have we considered, however, how awful it is to give a report, and have people not believe it? Some of the most difficult things in life come with the chronic stigma of people ‘not believing’ it!
- We doubt the testimony of rape victims, accusing them somehow of causing someone else to violate them.
- We doubt the testimony of homeless people, accusing them of not pursuing work hard enough or “trying” hard enough to make a life for themselves.
- We doubt the testimony of people who believe they are called to ministry or who have mystical or revelatory encounters with God, branding them as “crazy.”
- We doubt the testimony of people who come and tell us they are changed in some way, believing they are always the same.
- We doubt the testimony of people who say they have been healed.
- We doubt the testimony of women who are abused by their husbands, thinking she did something to “provoke” him.
- We doubt the testimony of people who come and tell us that they are unhappy, facing temptations, or other things, and just casually tell them to “brush” it off, like it is unimportant.
- We doubt the testimony of men who are mistreated by their bosses on the job.
- We doubt when someone has seen or experienced something and we haven’t experienced it or we weren’t there.
We doubt, we doubt, we doubt.
We will never impact the world if we allow our doubts to continually overshadow testimony. If we want to change people’s lives, we need to stop disbelieving things and let our discernment kick in so we can truly know what is true from what is not true, discern people’s spirits, telling those who want help from those who want to create drama, and, over all, so we can be a resource. Faith begins with trust. Have we ever considered that people waiver on faith at times because we have not extended to them what we expect them to extend themselves?
Put the doubt away, Thomas. Learn to rely on the gifts God has provided so we can help inspire faith in people, rather than relying on constant and consistent doubt.
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.