“Let’s go back to Judea.” Jesus’ disciples objected to what He said. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” (John 11:7-8). After Jesus explained the situation and once again said, “Come, let’s go.” Thomas, AKA “Doubting Thomas” said, “Let’s go too, and die with Jesus.” (John 11:16). It’s funny how someone in the Bible that is known as the one that doubted, was the first out of the disciples to speak up in this situation with faith. Yet, he is not mainly remembered for this.
In the midst of the outbreak that is affecting the world, I was on a rollercoaster similar to Thomas. When first presented with the news, I was on fire. I was proclaiming God’s victory and goodness over the situation, and was ready to lay down my life for the gospel. But of course, as news articles and doubts and fears from others around me started to confront me; I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was. I started losing hope. I would have moments of worry and anxiety, and then moments where I was completely fine. It still isn’t what I want to be known for though. I don’t want to be remembered as someone that had faith “sometimes.” But God began to reveal to me that, when everything is all okay and the world is moving as it should, of course I would believe that I have strong and unshakable faith. Because I had nothing to challenge me. But as soon as the trial came and I began to be crushed under the pressure, I thought at that moment I mustn’t have been strong to begin with.
Thomas doubted only because he lost hope, but the awesome thing that we forget when we read about Thomas’ doubt, is Jesus’ compassion.
“One of the twelve wasn’t present when Jesus appeared to them—it was Thomas, whose nickname was “the Twin.” So the disciples informed him, “We have seen the Lord with our own eyes!” Still unconvinced, Thomas replied, “There’s no way I’m going to believe this unless I personally see the wounds of the nails in his hands, touch them with my finger, and put my hand into the wound of his side where he was pierced!” Then eight days later, Thomas and all the others were in the house together. And even though all the doors were locked, Jesus suddenly stood before them! “Peace to you,” he said. Then, looking into Thomas’ eyes, he said, “Put your finger here in the wounds of my hands. Here—put your hand into my wounded side and see for yourself. Thomas, don’t give in to your doubts any longer, just believe!” Then the words spilled out of his heart—“You are my Lord, and you are my God!” Jesus responded, “Thomas, now that you’ve seen me, you believe. But there are those who have never seen me with their eyes but have believed in me with their hearts, and they will be blessed even more!”” (John 20:24-29)
Now I don’t know about you but I can only read that as Jesus looking into Thomas’ eyes lovingly and speaking so gently to him. And Jesus still does that for us today. He meets us at our doubt, holds our hand, and helps us to start walking forward again. I can hear Him saying, “See, look at this proof right here. I was faithful before, I will be faithful again.” We may doubt and fear and crumble under pressure sometimes, but we don’t have to let it be the norm. We don’t have to let it be what we are known for. Even though we always will remember Thomas as “Doubting Thomas”, Jesus will remember him for his willingness to die for the gospel. Fear and doubt don’t disqualify faith. Choosing to have faith despite the fear causes it to grow.
Don’t fight the trial when it comes though. When your faith gets shaken, that is the opportunity for growth. “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” (Heb 12:26-28). I know now that when my faith is being shaken, I truly can rejoice, cause I only want what is unshakable to remain in me. Thomas, when given the proof of Jesus’ resurrection, the praise came spilling out of his mouth! When met with God’s faithfulness, our only response can be praise. God will do the rest of the work in growing your faith. It’s your job to respond.
So when the storm comes, what will be your default? Will you respond with faith or fear? “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” (2 Cor 1:8-10). When Paul faced these trials, he still had fear and he still doubted. But his default was to have faith and rely on God. Why? Because God had looked him in the eyes and said, “Look at the proof. I was faithful before. I will be faithful again.” So let our default, in the midst of a trial, be what Paul defaulted in, faith despite fear.