April 18, 2020
Dear Thomas, what questions you leave us with! You come into the room with such doubt. Jesus has already stood with the others. Where have you been? What have you been thinking before this moment? To come late and full of doubt is actually not a good look for you. So, Thomas, this whole telling of your story is pretty bad for your reputation. Just saying. Then again, maybe you are OK with the moniker Doubting Thomas.
O Lord Jesus, unless I can see with my own eyes and touch your wounds… well, what am I left with? Practical inquiry. Reasonable question. Empirical knowledge. That’s what we need. Right? Thomas, are you sure you don’t live right down the street from me? Are you part of my family? You are here. Or at least your spirit still lives where I live.
Today’s world is full of doubters and more doubters, replicated till their voices resound in pitch perfect skepticism and mistrust. Who are the reliable sources? Who are the voices that bring healing calm? And why does it seem like the louder voices are those ringing with vitriol and mean-spiritedness?
I have always thought of doubt as the prod for faith building, the place where the knowing and the unknowing live a push-pull creative tension. Doubt becomes the place where dynamic faith is grown. Doubt seeds the questions and the questions stretch us even when they go unanswered.
The story of Thomas from John 20: 19 – 31 speaks to a personal doubt that needs tangible proof. Thomas’s doubt is about seeing before believing. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
I have not seen the world from outer space, but I believe the world is round and not flat, as some in the world today still believe. I have not seen the glaciers cracking and melting, nor have I seen thick air pollution over Beijing and Los Angeles, but I have seen weather changes and increasing storms. I believe in science and environmental research while doubters and deniers abound even as the water rises. I have not been in a New York Hospital, or in Milan, Italy to see how COVID 19 is impacting lives, but I believe what I see in the media. People are dying and body counts are mounting. Even funeral homes are overwhelmed. Still there are some in the world who are calling this pandemic a hoax.
Who will we trust? In what or whom will we have faith? Who among us is building trustworthiness? When we cling more to ideology, dismissing and demeaning those who do not agree with us, the doubt wins and we all lose. Throwing stones destroys goodwill and sets a divide that hurts everybody. How much more of the acrimony seeded by doubt can we live before completely breaking?
Jesus reveals his wounds and invites Thomas to believe. Our world is wounded; God’s people everywhere are hurting. Now is a time to grow faith and build trust. Now is the time to take a leap toward all that is good, all that is God. In this season after Easter, may we encounter the risen Christ and find new hope that restores and saves. Through our believing, we will find new life. In Christ’s name. Amen.