For many Christians, doubt is a word that reflects failure, especially when it comes to their faith. I know many who have questioned their own sincerity in faith when challenged by Jesus’ words to Thomas: “Do not doubt but believe.”
For Thomas, though, doubt is not unfaithfulness. Doubt is to ponder in one’s heart, to carry on an inner dialog, struggle, or an honest embrace with how we are doing and what we are feeling. It may be brought about by anxiety, pain, or fear. Pain and suffering reflect a depth of love and connectedness to others. For Thomas, the absence of Jesus in his life has brought tremendous pain and suffering. His doubt was not about doctrines or statements of belief, but a relationship seemingly broken by death. His doubt speaks of love. And the love of Jesus works to heal Thomas’ heart and bring him the peace he lacks.
It is the same for you and me. The peace we seek and need is the peace of life with Christ, made real in our lives through the presence of the Spirit. Pain makes room for doubt, and facing our doubt and pain can be the first steps toward healing and a new kind of wholeness.
When Thomas finally sees Jesus, he seems to understand Jesus in a new way that reaches deep down in his soul and responds: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). He responds in words of love and trust, which, as far as we know, become the posture of his life for the rest of his days.
Grace and Peace,
Published previously in slightly different form in Reflections, January-April 2022 (Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc.)