Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, 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 believed.”
Years ago I was so certain about my faith. I could spit out answers to questions by mining a verse. I had ideas about what a “real” Christian looked like; based on behavior I felt like a reasonable judgment could be made regarding salvation. Never mind that Scripture teaches only God knows the heart of man (1 Kings 8:39). I may not have given voice to my thoughts, but my spirit sure was critical.
Somewhere along the way questions began stirring in my mind, the kind that pushed against conventional teaching. I observed a disconnect between the values so many in the church were living (me included) and the way Jesus, His disciples, and the early church operated. Sunday school answers weren’t enough, and I realized I didn’t actually believe some of the things I had once professed.
I felt guilty — sinful — about my questions and doubts. My inner dialogue defeated me, but I didn’t feel like I had the freedom to question the status quo. That was heresy, right? Who was I to question?
And then the Lord spoke right to me through my pastor, a Sunday morning sermon that liberated my captive heart:
God isn’t offended by your doubts. You aren’t sinning if you ask questions. Questions and doubts might be evidence that God is wooing you, creating a path for you to know Him better (especially if you’re seeking Him for answers). God will exhaust any means to draw you to His side.
Instantly, I was released from a stronghold of guilt. I found my questions the means by which God was calling me to a more intimate relationship with Him. There was a newfound freedom in my faith.
God didn’t want me to rely on the faith of anyone else – -my husband, family, friends, or church leaders. To a degree, my faith was secondhand, an extension of the faith of others. He wanted me to know Him, personally and experientially.
This is one reason I love Thomas, a doubter and yet one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. I can identify with his need to see Jesus himself following the resurrection. He wasn’t content to rely on the testimony of others. He longed for first-hand faith.
Eight days after some of the disciples had seen the resurrected Christ, He who is our peace returned. He invited Thomas’ touch and urged him to believe. Thomas recognized Jesus for who He was and proclaimed Him as his Lord and God. Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas because He knew what Thomas needed.
Then Jesus did something incredible: He extended a blessing for those who believe, sight unseen. Yes, we can know Him through His Word, experience God in creation, and even see glimpses of Him in other believers, but the time to meet Him face to face hasn’t come . . . yet.
I can hardly wait.
Is yours a first-hand faith? Are you struggling with doubt and questions? Do you identify with Thomas and his need to experience Christ himself? I’d love for you to share how God has met you when you needed Him most!