Interesting Things To Know

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Reverberations - On Doubt

On Doubt

It surprises me sometimes how often I need to be reminded of God's love. As in, truly reminded. As if His love could change based on something I do or do not do. As if His love could all of a sudden become withheld from me because my heart was weaker than it should have been.

Today in my reading, I am reminded again, of just how much God loves me. Stories I have heard since the beginning of time, it feels like, become new in the hour I need to know who God truly is. They go from being mere stories in an old book, to the words of Life they were created to be. 

Such is today's offering.

John 20:24-29 NASB

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

So, once again I am taken to the period of time just after the Resurrection. Jesus is making His appearances, assuring all those who believed in Him while He was alive, that He had indeed risen as He said He would. Christ appeared to His disciples....and Peter...(for those keeping up with the blog!!). Well, all His disciples except Thomas. Thomas wasn't with them. Perhaps Thomas was grieving, off on his own, dealing with his own private pain. It doesn't say why Thomas wasn't with them.  All we know for sure is that Thomas does not believe them. All this excitement, all these wild proclamations, all this renewed vision and hope among the believers. And Thomas won't believe it. He makes his grand statement about not believing until he can touch the Master Himself.

Eight days. Jesus made him wait eight days. That is eight days of listening to them all make plans. That is eight days of sitting on the outside looking in. That is eight  nights going to sleep in the knowledge that all the rest of your company is feeling something that he can't manufacture, even if he tried. That is eight days of doubt instead of belief. 

Jesus, of course, shows up, as He always does, and declares that Thomas can feel free to touch Him, because that is who Jesus is. I don't see Jesus adding any guilt or shame to Thomas. I don't see Him handing out condemnation because Thomas' belief system needed something a little more than the others. I think Jesus may have been a bit saddened at Thomas's response, but there is no guilt heaped on him in that moment. 

In my world, I see these times where God has promised to show up. He has given encouragement, and support and love to get me through the tough stuff. Only in my humanity, I doubt. In my humanity, I somehow can't seem to trust that His promises are 'Yes and Amen'. In my humanity, I need Jesus to fix my times before I can believe. 

Thomas lost eight days before Christ came to him. He lost eight days of building faith, of restored joy, of living in the promise. In my mind, Christ could have come to him at the same time He came to the rest of the disciples, He could have found Thomas wherever he was grieving on his own, and put an end to Thomas's doubt right then. But He didn't. He waited eight days.

I think that's sometimes what He does with me. In my mind, I know the words He has spoken. I know that He has plans for me, plans for my good. In my mind, I know that He will show up in the exact moment I need Him to. But I doubt. I try not to. I hold on to that hope, but the difference between what my mind knows and what my heart believes sometimes is a great chasm. He waits. While others are believing and moving in His peace and walking in His joy, I am waiting. 

As I write this, I'm chuckling to myself, because I can see myself, like Thomas, on that eighth day, when He does show up,....'My Lord and my God.....I knew you were God all along....really, I did! Of course I knew it!'

Again, God just shakes His head at me. Today, though, instead of feeling that heaping guilt and shame for my doubt, I sense His love. I sense His knowledge of who I am. He knows what I need. He knows when I need it. Perhaps, as time goes on, the time it takes for my heart to catch up with my head will be less than my traditional 'eight days'...or whatever that usually looks like.

It moves me so much that Jesus was so gracious to those who messed up. Peter and Thomas....I see myself so clearly in them. My natural responses are met with His unwavering love. 

I think it says something about Thomas that even after those eight days, he was still hanging with the disciples. He was still with them. In my heart, I want to believe that the fact that Thomas was still there, in that closed room with the door shut, showed that he did have enough faith and belief to at least still be there with them at all. 

For me, there's a lesson in that. Not only about believing without seeing, but when my faith is low, when my belief system is not what it should be, when I'm having trouble with my chasm.....I need to keep hanging out with those who are 'getting it'. I need to seek out those ones who are stronger in their faith. I need to still be around those ones who God is speaking to. At the end of the day, that will spill out on me and my faith will grow just by being around those people. Myself, if I had been Thomas, after one day of hearing all those disciples talk about what they saw and how excited they were, I probably would have pulled away in a bitter sulk, pouting at God, like a petulant child. I know myself, and that's what I tend to do. I'm sure God would appreciate it if I grew up in my faith a little bit and behaved a little more like Thomas in those insecure days. Keep showing up. Keep hanging out with those passionate souls whose faith is strong. 

Because one day, He's going to need me to be the eyes of faith for someone who happens to be in the middle of their 'eight days'.


M.Christine Duncan said...

Girl, can I be there when you get to preach somewhere for the first time? Your posts don't let me leave without a dozen things to chew on and digest. Thanking God for you!!!

Pam said... can have a VIP pass!! lol....I'm thanking God every day that He words things out as He does. I'm glad it's saying something to you. Nice to know I'm not the only one chewing on this stuff!