John 20:29 MSG
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
A Word of Hope
The above verse from the Gospel of John is Jesus’s words to the Apostle Thomas, who is often referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas earned this title because he refused to believe in the resurrected Christ unless he himself could “see the nail marks in his (Jesus’s) hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side.” Let’s put ourselves in Thomas’s shoes for a moment. For whatever reason, Thomas was not with the other disciples when the resurrected Christ appeared. He hears the story from them. How likely would you be to believe that a man who had been crucified on a cross was again walking among the living without seeing it for yourself? Thomas had to believe, first of all, that resurrection was even possible and then that his fellow apostles were telling him a true story.
Today is Opposites Day. Is doubt the opposite of faith? Faith can be defined as a strong belief in something for which there is no quantifiable or measurable proof. Doubt casts questions about something that is proven to be truth. For me, faith and doubt are not opposites. Rather, the opposite of faith is truth and the opposite of doubt is belief. So, did Thomas’s doubt rest in faith or truth? Did he doubt the power of God to bring Jesus back to life or did he doubt the integrity of the humans closest to him? Or, maybe it was some of both.
Faith asks us to trust things that we have not seen. I assume that none of us has actually seen Jesus walking around with the marks of the crucifixion. This brings to mind the chorus of a song by Michael Card, “To hear with my heart, To see with my soul, To be guided by a hand I cannot hold, To trust in a way that I cannot see, That’s what faith must be.”
Thomas doubted the truth of what the other apostles told him, though once Jesus appeared to Thomas, he experienced proof of the resurrection. With this, Thomas moved to the other end of the doubt-belief continuum. He became a believer. His belief was based in truth rather than faith. Jesus’s words to Thomas, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” describe the faith that we hope to develop as mature Christians.
If we call ourselves people of faith, we must believe with our whole heart and mind that Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit are moving among us. Times of turmoil and pain may try to pull us toward doubt. If our faith remains strong, we are open to seeing that God is good then we are able to stay further away from doubt and rest in the security of faith and belief.
Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit, stir in me a faith that is strong enough to be guided by a hand I cannot hold and to trust in a Way that I cannot see.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare