Life is a journey that is full of surprises. We plan and prepare as best we can, but life can throw us a curve and the unexpected finds its way to us. Not only does the unexpected happen in life, but we also witness things that are evil, oppressive, or unjust that causes us to stop and wonder what God is up to. From this we can find ourselves in a place where our faith in God struggles and we may even begin to doubt.
What can be even more troubling is when people around us intentionally try to cause our faith to stumble. Whether it be a stranger, friend, or even a family member, we will encounter people in life that find out we are Christian and they seem to make it their goal to challenge our faith. And it is not just people around us that can cause us to question our faith in Christ. Even our own human nature can lead us to doubt. These are challenges we all face as Christians.
With these truths in mind, I want to urge us to not be distressed. We are not the only ones to struggle with our faith. Even in our modern society where it seems we can demand proof for everything, we are not the first to doubt. We only need to look to Scripture to find this to be true. Soon after Christ’s death and resurrection, the disciples were struggling to make sense of it all. They even had the opportunity to walk with Jesus, to hear him teach, and to witness his miracles of healing. Yet they still had doubt and struggled to make sense of it all.
The most famous doubter among the disciples was Thomas. His doubt was so infamous that he is widely known as “Doubting Thomas.” We hear his familiar struggles with understanding Christ’s death and resurrection in John 20:19-31. In these verses of Scripture, Jesus appears to the disciples in a locked house, however Thomas is absent. When the others tell Thomas about what they had seen, Thomas demands proof. Thomas says, “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” (John 20:25).
Thomas soon gets the opportunity for the evidence he needs. A week later Jesus again appears in the locked house with the disciples and this time Thomas is there. Jesus shows Thomas the wounds of the crucifixion and offers the opportunity to touch them. However Scripture does not say Thomas ended up following through with his request. Instead Jesus only speaks and Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas does not need to touch the wounds. He just hears Jesus and his doubt is resolved.
I hope this is good news for all of us. Jesus may return in our lifetime and give us the opportunity to walk with him. But if not we, like Thomas, know Jesus through hearing. We hear Jesus speak to us through Scripture. We hear other people tell about their experiences with Jesus in their life. In times of prayer we are able to hear the still, small voice of Jesus stirring in our souls and speaking to us.
There are also ways God is speaking to us in the world around us. When we hear the wind blow by or the waves crashing on the beach, we are hearing God’s love speak to us. The melody of bird’s chirping is beauty only God could imagine. Even in the sounds of laughter or weeping God is present and speaking into our human nature and meeting us there.
Life is unpredictable. But in its unpredictability it is also a beautiful journey. We will doubt and our faith will struggle. Yet Christ will reach out to us, knowing these truths of our human nature, and when we have ears to listen and hearts to know, our faith can be renewed. May we also speak the Good News of Jesus Christ so that through us people that doubt are able to turn towards Jesus. Together we may all cry out with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”
With peace and love, Pastor Adam