Hope for those who Doubt…
Doubt plagues many people…even Christians. For some, they seem to doubt God’s love and goodness because they have faced circumstances where the Lord could have intervened and He could have given them a different outcome, but He didn’t. As a result, they now find it difficult to pray or to trust Him. For others, it’s not that they doubt God or even His goodness, but they doubt themselves. Can they be good enough or do they measure up to what they think God accepts?
John 20:24-31 tells of a man history calls, “Doubting Thomas.” I want to show you a few reasons why I appreciate this story in the Bible and how relevant it can be to our lives…especially to those of us who have genuine doubts and questions.
The Disciples were genuinely afraid
Verse 26 tells us that eight days after Christ’s resurrection the disciples were gathered together in a room with the doors locked! I don’t’ know about you, but it gives me a great deal of comfort to know how human the disciples were. They were not super men with unlimited courage. These were the men Christ had hand chosen to be His followers. Jesus had invested the last three years of His ministry pouring into them. They saw each of His miracles and experienced the supernatural power of God time and time again…yet here they were, cowering behind a locked door in fear..
The Disciples were not gullible
We often scorn Thomas for doubting, but Jesus didn’t. Verse 25 records that Thomas told the other disciples, “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.”
I bet Thomas was the analytically and rational one of the group. He wasn’t gullible and was not going to take other people’s word. Notice the other disciples had already had a conversation with Jesus. They had already experienced the risen Savior in the verses above. Then eight days later, they gathered again but this time Thomas was with them…that must have been a long, agonizing week for Thomas. While the other disciples had joy in knowing Christ had risen, Thomas continued on with his doubts and unbelief.
You may be that analytically type and while you believe there is a God, you don’t know if you go for all the Bible stuff. “I’m not going to take other people’s word for it”, or “I’m not going to believe a book written thousands of years ago and who knows how many times it’s been changed…”Sure, it’s for some people and some of the Bible has merit, but you would never consider yourself a “believer’ or “follower of Jesus.”
I wonder how much joy you’re missing in life because of your unbelief? You may have all kinds of arguments as to why you think the way you do. I’m sure Thomas had his reasoning’s. But Christianity is not meant to be argued, it is meant to be experienced. You may have all kinds of angels you see Christ through, but until you experience Christ for yourself, you’ll never have the joy and peace of salvation.
The Bible says that eight days later they gathered together again. This time Thomas is with everyone. Then the unthinkable happens, Christ appears through the wall with the doors being locked! Now, in our day that doesn’t sound so strange. If this happened with you and I standing in a room, we would be amazed but then say, “WOW, how did you do that? What special effects did you use?” There were no special effects in this day. It must have stunned the disciples!
In verse 27 Christ says 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.” Can you image the look on Thomas’ face?
Jesus isn’t offended by our doubts and questions
Do you know what really amazes me about this experience? Remember what we said earlier, Jesus had invested the most important three years of his life pouring into these men. It surprises me that He didn’t sneer or rebuke them for their fear and unbelief!
He actually did the exact opposite. Read the end of verse 26, “…Peace be with you.” He didn’t look around the room and say, “Are you kidding me? You’ve seen each one of my miracles. You witnessed my power. I told you I was going to die and I told you I would rise again. Why didn’t you believe me?” No! He didn’t reprimand them. Rather, He calmed their fears and said, “Peace be with you.”
How are you doubting God in your life at the moment? Are you afraid to be the person God is calling you to be? Are you scared of actually going through with what you know He is leading you to do? Do you feel that the Lord is angry with you? I don’t think the God is angry with you. He wasn’t angry with His disciples. He instead reinforced His confidence in them.
Look carefully at verse 21, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
Isn’t that remarkable? Instead of saying, “You’re all cowards! Have you learned nothing from me in the last three years? Did I choose the wrong men?” He didn’t say anything like that! Rather He said the most audacious thing you could say to a group of men cowering in a locked room. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
I bet Jesus is saying the same thing to your doubting heart today! You may think He’s angry with you. You may think you’re unfit to serve Him. You may think you don’t have what it takes, but Jesus says the exact opposite! He says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”