My most favoritest disciple is Thomas.
I also like Nathan with his condescending comment of, “Does anything good come out of Nazareth?” I can relate to that with my regrettable jadedness. Yet, Thomas is my favorite.
Often, I read the Bible like I’m reading a textbook or a book for class. I’ll read the teachings and ideas and try to apply them to my life. Reading it like a living story, like it actually happened, doesn’t come naturally which is no surprise with the brevity the writers record in. No blame to them though, because they had to hand-copy everything.
Also, so many of these famous Biblical people seemed so good. None perfect, except Christ, but they were so sacrificial and devout. Like Moses may have been afraid to speak in public or he didn’t whisper to the rock which in the end robbed him of living in the promise land, but he parted the red sea, healed snake bites, and made frogs cover all of Egypt. I have yet to do anything that impressive. I haven’t even led someone to Christ that I know of.
Yet, I love Thomas because he seems so human. The gospels mention very little about Thomas. In fact, only John records anything about him other than being on the list of disciples. The first time of him saying something was in John 11:16
“Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
This is when Jesus waited to go heal Lazarus. He waited, and as a result, Lazarus died. Then Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Yet, look at what Thomas said above. Doesn’t it sound sarcastic? It definitely has a degree of ignorance to it, and a bit of foreshadowing for their future lives. It’s ironic; dramatically ironic. Jesus was very open that He was going to die for the sins of the world. I think after so much repetition accompanied by the many miracles of healing that Jesus did, Jesus’ disciples began to wonder if Jesus was really going to die, or if the whole thing was just a metaphor.
The next recorded instance of Thomas talking was in John 14:5. He says,
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
This is where Jesus clearly states that He is leaving and going to die. This is a painful thing for anyone to hear. Your friend is leaving you. No, it’s not even that simple. This person with abilities that one could only dream of, the person who made your life have a new richer meaning, is now leaving. He gave a hope that he was going to dispel the oppression that you and your loved ones faced. He had a free enriching belief system that was counter to the modern day religious oppression at the time. Not to mention, He was a loving friend which is so hard to find. He did all that, but now is leaving. How heart wrenching, and this is reflected in the way that Thomas speaks in this verse.
The final instance of Thomas speaking is his most famous one of all in John 20:24-29.
24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
26 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. 27 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!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
At this point, the progression of Thomas’ story makes sense. He starts out with disbelief about Jesus’ death and treats it like a joke, but Jesus keeps repeating it and the fear arrives that maybe Jesus isn’t joking. Finally, the reality hits and this important figure in Thomas’ life dies. Not a simple death, but a gruesome humiliating death of a criminal.
The heartache at this point is so palpable. Don’t tell me that the Messiah is alive. Don’t play this sick joke on me that someone I loved like a father is alive again. He could have taken himself off of that cross, he could have healed his own wounds, he could have put all those despicable men to shame, but He didn’t. He is dead, and who will raise Him? You, me, Lazaraus? None of us can. Our hope, our savior, our friend is dead.
So often with doubt there is pain. It’s a feeling of betrayal. Someone puts their hope in something. It brings them joy, but in the end it’s a big lie, and the person feels like an idiot for believing it. It’s no surprise that some of the angriest people at Christianity are the ones that once hoped in it and then found it to be not true. Not saying all angry anti Christianity people were betrayed, but when they mention a background in the church, it all starts to make more sense.
After all, that was me. When God was no longer real to me, I became so angry and sought the destruction of everything. Everything meant nothing to me, and the world and all of its people were simply a means to my own gratification. I used people. I manipulated people to feel insecure to my advantage. I played the system. I was a success, but I hated myself for it. I wanted self-esteem, but all I achieved was arrogance. I wanted wisdom, but all I had was ignorance. I wanted love, but all I achieved was lust.
When I met people who believed in God, I treated them like such idiots. They were blind ignorant people who oppressed the world with their beliefs. Yeah maybe God was real, but this moralistic system that you created to follow the ‘will of a God’ was some ridiculous notion to placate your insecurity. I read study after study about how Christians were terrible people and found so many kind non-believers and wondered why I still followed God. After all, I was mess, and it sounded like Christians were too. I might as well follow the footsteps of more enlightened people. (Note for any Christians who live a half foot in the world and half foot out of it, don’t believe the lie that you’re more relatable by sinning. You appear just as screwed up as everyone else and your “hope” seems like crap)
If you’re reading this and you are filled with doubt, I have bad news. I don’t have the cure. I don’t have a list of steps about how I got out of it. I don’t have anything that would be a sure fire way to eradicate your doubt. I have no books. I have no arguments. I don’t doubt the existence of Christ or that He is a Messiah. How did I get there? I have no idea. It just happened one day.
To give a visual, it’s like Jesus grabbed me by the throat, stared me in the eyes like one would with a dog, and said, “You are mine.” Then I submitted and now I follow Him. It’s not a peaceful visual because it wasn’t a peaceful event. It wasn’t a cuddly romantic wooing. It was an aggressive punch in the face which was the most loving thing He could do.
The good news though, is that there is a cure. The doubt you face now will be cured. It was eight days until Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas. He could have done it earlier but He chose not to. Why? I don’t know. Who can question the ways of God? Still, Christ did reveal Himself to Thomas. So much so that He told Thomas to put his hand, his whole hand, into the wound in Jesus’ side. There’s your cure. Put your hand in Jesus’ disgusting open flesh wound, feel his beating heart, and believe. No, I joke, but maybe that’s what you need.
Here’s the thing though. When I came back to God, when I finally submitted to His will, I was at a Bible study. I didn’t want to be there. I begrudgingly went after my former youth pastor, whom I felt abandoned me, asked me to go. I figured I’d go out of respect since he invested me before, and in order for me to be a ‘great’ person I had to repay my debts. Yet, God revitalized me there.
I guess that’s my advice. Keep searching and being where God is. It’s so easy to abandon it all for self-gratifying sin. Like junk food, it taste great now, but you’ll pay for it later. Also don’t feel guilty about your doubt. Everyone pretty much deals with doubt in one way or another. If not the existence of God, it’s doubt about the extent to which He will take care of us or bless us. Including myself, there is a fear that God secretly desires our misery, but that is a topic for another time.
For now, pray, search, and serve. This may be quite the insult, but with doubt there is a degree of pride. When I said pray, in your heart did you say, “But I’ve been praying!” Well, who are you to not grovel at the feet of God to be absolved of doubt? Maybe it’ll be for 10 years and then you’ll be free. Does any of us deserve better? Also the reality may be that we will never have the answer or an answer that is as satisfying as we hope in this life.
I had to deal with that tonight. As I complained to God about how I hated my current situations in life, His answer back wasn’t an absolving of my responsibilities, but the statement that, “It’s not about you.” I doubted that He will actually take care of me. Yet, I have everything I need and everything I need to worship and serve Christ. Yet, the peace that I need in order to maintain this life is something that I need to ask for daily. Like mana from heaven it’s temporary and I need to go and ask for more. Once again, who are we to not have to daily or frequently grovel at the foot of God’s throne? It’s not glamourous, and it’s a lot of work.
So in summary, you have doubt. You’re human no surprise, but congratulations you’re part of a beautiful story of someone overcoming the odds and being victorious. It’s work and of course difficult. You can keep fighting or you can just give up and leave the story. It’s your choice, but also never forget you have others to help support you. Community.
I apologize I never talked about doubt and community. =( but go ask your Christian friend about it. I’m sure they’ll know.