A week later, Jesus’ disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:26-29
In some ways all the disciples were doubters, not just Thomas. They didn’t believe the women when they spoke of having seen the risen Christ. They didn’t want to leave their locked rooms even after they too had seen Jesus a week earlier. They didn’t understand what Jesus was asking of them even after he gave them his peace and the Holy Spirit. Maybe the others were afraid to voice their reservations, but not Thomas. He may have spoken for all of them.
To doubt is part of the process of growing in the faith. Frederick Buechner defines doubt as “the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” To doubt is an active way to engage the faith and other believers. It is often in the questioning that new insights come or mysteries are made clearer.
It is important that each of us deal with our doubts, but at the same time we should not ridicule the doubts of others. Thomas was not dismissed by Jesus, instead he was given the opportunity “to touch and experience.” Leave room within your faith for the mystery and awe, for suspicions and questions, for change and growth. All the same freedom for others, for the risen Christ appears for some to touch and for others to understand through the heart or head.
Think on these things during this week of Eastertide:
What are my doubts? Should I be working on these and if so, how? Or are they not essential to my faith and can just be?
When and how have my doubts caused me to revise my thinking about God and the risen Christ? Should I talk to someone about this as a form of witnessing to the power of the risen Christ?
We may not touch his hands and side,
nor follow where he trod;
yet on his promise we rejoice,
and cry, “My Lord and God!”
Help then, O Lord, our unbelief,
and may our faith abound;
to call on you when you are near,
and seek where you are found.
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.