On Thomas ... and Doubt
Sunday was dark and gloomy around here. When I woke up and looked out the window, I discovered the ground – and my car – were covered with a blanket of snow. Because it was Sunday, and because we couldn’t imagine staying inside at home all day long, we got ourselves ready and headed to church. As I sat through the service, I couldn’t help but think how fitting it was that on this gloomy snowy day we were hearing about Thomas. The one who doubted. As I sat there, I realized that I, like Thomas, was in a serious place of doubt.
Doubt that spring will ever arrive.
Doubt that I will be happy here for the long term.
Doubt that the day will come when I no longer long for Atlanta.
Doubt that I will ever find a community that I love as much as the one we had in Grant Park.
Doubt that God is ever going to show me what in the heck She is up to.
It’s only been a week since Easter. And I, like Thomas, have already forgotten the joy of Easter morning. I’ve forgotten the sunshine. Forgotten the promise of friendships. Of community. Of a future so much greater than anything I can even possibly imagine.
Maybe it’s the weather that has me down. But maybe I’m more like Thomas than I’d like to admit.
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.
The hardest part of faith is that it is, by definition, believing that which we cannot see. It’s believing that, even though we can’t see Jesus in the flesh, he is there right beside us, through everything we are feeling. It’s believing that Christ prevailed over all the dark and gloomy – no matter what our emotions are on any given day.
This story of Thomas … it pretty much sums up all of our lives, doesn’t it? Haven’t we all had times when we just weren’t quite sure we believed the things our church proclaimed? Haven’t we all had times when our emotions got in the way of what we know, in our heart, to be true? Haven’t we all had times of doubt?
I am intrigued when I sit down to think about just how connected my doubts are to what I’m feeling on any given day. My doubts and my emotions seem to be intertwined. When I’m feeling happy and optimistic, I don’t really have many doubts. I take things at their face value. I don’t really dive in to thinking about them on any deep, questioning level – I just believe … no questions asked. But when I’m feeling dark and gloomy, that’s when the doubt begins to take hold. It’s when I begin to wonder if all the things I’ve proclaimed for so many years really are true … or are they just empty words on a page?
The beauty of faith is that it isn’t about emotion. My faith in Christ can stand strong even when I doubt. Because this story of Thomas – this story of Christ’s resurrection – it isn’t about emotion. It’s about belief. It’s about belief in a God that is so good – that loves us so much – that He promises a good and right relationship with us … forever. This story isn’t about how we feel on any given day. It’s about knowing, deep within our hearts, that God’s word stands forever. It’s about remembering that no matter where we live, no matter where we go, no matter what we do … our relationship with God will always be there. It’s about remembering our baptism – remembering the promise that God will always love us.
It’s about remembering who we are. Whose we are.