Like a balloon punctured by a pin, doubt can deflate your faith. It happens to the best of us. It even happened to those closest to Jesus – His disciples. All day Friday, all day Saturday and even in the wee hours of Sunday morning, doubt had claimed their hearts and ravaged their faith. Their hope and expectations in Jesus had been nailed to a Cross. Yet when news arrived that Jesus was resurrected, when ten of disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, doubt disappeared and joy filled their hearts once again.
But there was one disciple who was missing when Jesus appeared. There was one disciple who didn’t accompany Peter and John when they ran to the tomb and were encountered by an angel declaring the resurrection of Jesus. Thomas was missing. He wasn’t at the tomb. He wasn’t in the room when Jesus appeared to his fellow disciples.
But he did hear the news. Thomas listened intently to their eye witness accounts. Yet he didn’t believe what he heard. He didn’t believe Peter. He didn’t believe John. He didn’t believe Andrew or any of the others who had seen the resurrected Jesus. His responded with faith-deflating doubt:
“I won’t believe it until I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”1
All of the aspirations and hope that Jesus had nurtured in him over the last three years died with Jesus on the Cross. To believe, he needed evidence:
If I can touch Jesus, then I will believe he is resurrected. You say you have seen Him, but I not only want to see Him, I want to touch him. I want evidence for myself.
A week passed. The disciples were gathered together in a room. Jesus appeared, and this time Thomas was there. Thomas stood in the presence of Jesus awestruck. He believed. Then without condemnation or a twinge of indignation, Jesus directed his attention to Thomas.
“Go ahead. See the nail prints in my hand. Put your hand in those nail prints. Put your hand in my wounded side.”2
Note the absence of acrimony or condemnation in the way Jesus responded to Thomas. Jesus gave Thomas the evidence he needed. Would it have been better if Thomas could have believed without seeing Jesus, without touching Jesus? Of course. Jesus even said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.”3
But there are times in my life, like Thomas, when I need to “touch” Jesus. I need the evidence. There are times when the reality of life attacks my faith with that deflating needle of doubt.
Faith is defined as the “substance of things hoped for.”
And there are times when I need to see evidence of that “substance” that I am hoping for. Like Thomas, I need to see the nail prints in His hands and put my hand in his side. Now, I know I can’t physically touch Jesus, but I know He can let me “touch” him by providing me with evidence that He is in control of my need, that He is handling my situation – evidence that the answer to my prayer is on the way.
A word of encouragement from an unexpected source.
An inspired word from the pulpit that speaks to my turmoil.
A worship song that divinely comforts my hurting heart.
A need suddenly supplied.
Whenever I revisit this encounter of Thomas, I’m comforted to know that if Jesus didn’t berate and condemn Thomas for his lack of faith, but instead provided him with the evidence he needed to bolster his faith, then Jesus will do the same for me.
He will not chide me for the times my faith wavers. Instead He will give me exactly what I need to bolster my faith.
Thank you, Thomas, for not being a perfect disciple but rather a disciple who was being perfected. Just like me.
1 John 20:25
2 John 20:27
3 John 20:29