Without a Doubt
I’ve often told my children that doubt is a normal part of wrestling with and owning our faith. It happens. Sometimes more often than others.
After many years of struggles and seeming silence from God on some difficult prayers, I have been thinking more and more about doubt and how that feeling has been a bigger part of my life than I thought it would. Sometimes when I pray I wonder why answers don’t seem more obvious…right in front of my face. And, of course, that brought me to the story of Thomas, often referred to as Doubting Thomas.
Understanding Doubting Thomas
In John 20: 24-29, Jesus reveals himself to the disciples, but unfortunately, Thomas is not there. When he does arrive, he says that he won’t believe Jesus is resurrected until he can touch his wounds.
I started thinking that maybe the story of Thomas doubting the resurrection isn’t just about Thomas having doubts, but also about Jesus being okay with it. About Jesus gently encouraging us to have faith even when we cannot see.
When Thomas said he wanted to see Jesus (I get that) maybe it was simply that he wanted to experience Him personally. After all, the other disciples had seen him already. Surely we can understand his desire to see and touch Jesus. Don’t we all want that?
I love the beauty of prayer. But I’d prefer to have Jesus sit with me, discuss my decisions, answer my questions, and just tell me what to do!
I’m tired of trying to solve what feels like my faith and decision puzzle. I just want God to reveal Himself to me. I want Him to say, “This is the way – let’s walk there together.” I know we have His Word, but I want Him to truly be here with me – visible, holding my hand, talking to me. I want that for my children too. I get Thomas.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (NIV).
I want to hear that. I want a voice behind me telling me which way to go. I have questions! I need answers.
I believe Jesus is okay with my prayers being filled with questions, frustrations, hopes, wishes, and all the in-between.
Because ultimately like Thomas, I want to know Him, see Him, believe Him, trust Him, and be assured He truly is here. He really does care. Like Thomas, I want a real experience with Him.
A Journey Only You Can Walk
Sometimes I’m baffled by the way things go in life. I imagine Thomas must have felt that too. Why wasn’t he there when Jesus appeared to the others? Obviously, Jesus knew Thomas wasn’t going to be there when he arrived. And why did Jesus wait a week to show Himself? He knew Thomas wanted to see Him and that he was probably grappling with unbelief, doubt, and fear. Whatever the reason, I know without a doubt it was a good one. Maybe Thomas needed to be where Jesus’ wanted Him to be to grow closer to Him. You know, that head space and heart space. It was a place that was only his…a journey only he could walk.
Jesus calls us differently, for unique purposes.
Although each of our journeys looks different, the goals are always the same: to know Jesus, trust Him, and love Him completely. Thankfully, God knows the best way to get us there.
When, like Thomas, I’m standing there wondering why everyone else got to see Him or is experiencing Him in what seems like a better, more positive way, I will remember that this is the path God has for me…my unique, one-of-a-kind path. That is simply amazing. That means that I’m known by Him, intimately, completely, perfectly. He knows the path He has set for me…just me… because He is my personal Lord and Savior. He isn’t a one-size-fits-all Savior. His path and thoughts and love for me are just as precious and beautiful and perfect as they are for you, but they are mine and mine alone.
As an educator, I understand individualized plans and paths…differentiated instruction. Unlike me with my students, there is no doubt in His mind about what path will work best for me…what I absolutely need and how I need it…what makes me tick and what makes me stop…what scares me, encourages me, blesses me, leads me, intrigues me…meets me at my deepest places. He knows me better than I know myself.
Faith Over Doubt
Thomas had his own path to walk…His personal Savior to know and follow, just like me. Just like us. There was no doubt that He wanted to know Jesus. Just like me. God knew what Thomas needed. And when Jesus reveals Himself to Thomas, I imagine His voice was gentle as He encouraged Thomas to touch His wounds and scars and then instructs him to “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20: 27).
I might doubt that God is hearing my prayers, that He is ever going to answer them in the way I long for, or that He truly wants good in my life and the lives of my children. But that’s where faith comes in and changes all the doubt.
I might not be able to see Him right before me, but I know God is trustworthy because my life is a testimony to it. I know that He never leaves me nor forsakes me because I feel His presence even in my doubting. I know that He hears my prayers. He knows me and all my doubts and still loves me completely.
Like Thomas, I might seem like a doubting disaster to others, but to God, I’m just his very loved daughter who needs some love, direction, and a bit of gentle correction along the way.
So pray big prayers believing God’s trustworthy and loving even when you struggle with a bit of doubt.