By Lisa Nuss
This year at our Easter service we talked about “Doubting Thomas.” Maybe not the most likely of characters to talk about in an Easter message, but who better than someone who represents a whole lot of the human race? Thomas is the epitome of “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I don’t know about you, but I know that I’ve said that about various things from time to time. (Most recently our snow forecasts, right?) Lucky for Thomas, he ended up being able to see a resurrected Jesus with his own eyes. This may cause you to think that this made having faith super easy for him because he could physically see Jesus in front of him. What about us? We can’t physically see or touch a risen Jesus, so how can we really believe? I like to use the wind analogy. We can’t see the wind, but we can see how the wind impacts the world around us and that evidence is what leads us to believe that the wind exists. The same can be said of Jesus. I can see how He’s made an impact not only on the lives of so many people around me, but my own life as well.
Thanks to my parents, I’ve gone to church as far back as I can remember and came to believe in Jesus at a fairly young age. I easily believed what the Bible said about God, what I learned from my pastor and Sunday school teachers, and what my parents told me was true. I don’t have stories of how I faced horrible life circumstances or how I had a deep-seated doubt about God being real. One might say that I had it pretty easy in regards to my Christian faith, and while there may be some truth to that, let me offer another thought to you.
While I may not have had to overcome doubts and circumstances in order to believe initially, I eventually did have to decide if I was believing in Jesus because people who I trusted were telling me it was true or because I really believed in Him for myself. There are so many young adults who grow up in church and once they leave home and go off to college or live on their own, they leave their faith behind for whatever reason. I could have been one of them. What I think made a difference for me was that I started out with a childhood faith that, through the trials and heartache I experienced over the years, slowly grew into a more seasoned and mature faith that could stand firm in the midst of real, everyday life. Every time I faced difficulties or doubts I chose over and over again to believe and to trust that my faith was true, and every time Jesus proved to me that He was real and He was with me. It wasn’t religion for me, but a relationship. And like any other relationship, I had to choose to keep it alive and growing. I continue to choose Jesus each and every day, no matter what I face.
That’s not to say that I’ve never questioned God or doubted His plan for me. I am human, after all, and I’m a thinker by nature. I like lists of pros and cons, detailed plans, knowing all of the facts before making a decision. Unfortunately, God doesn’t always give me a glaring neon sign and a detailed 10-step plan for what to do next. There have been times when I looked at what I believed God was leading me to do and thought, ‘That doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense,’ and questioned whether it was really what God wanted me to do. Despite my tendencies to want to have everything all figured out, I’ve had to constantly choose to let go of my preferences and to trust in and rely on the God who has proven Himself to be faithful. And I can honestly say that I’ve never found my faith to be misplaced.
Do you think belief or having faith is in opposition to being a “thinker”? Why or why not?
How do you think the disciples were feeling in the 3 days after Jesus’ crucifixion?
Question 2: Read John 20:19-31
The disciple Thomas is often referred to as “Doubting Thomas”. Did Thomas’s doubts signal unbelief in him? What do you think is the difference between doubt and unbelief?
In the second part of verse 29, Jesus says, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Why do you think there is a special blessing for those who require less proof?
Re-read John 20:26-27. What does it say that Jesus not only consented to Thomas’s request for physical proof, but that he walked through a stone wall to accommodate him?
Have your personal experiences ever caused you to doubt or change what you believed? What happened?
While Jesus understands our frailties and our need for proof, He also knows the point at which no further evidence is needed, and it’s time to “stop doubting and believe” (v. 27). As you think about the things the Lord is teaching you in your life today, is there a situation that requires a similar leap of faith?
Thank God for his incredible, life-changing work on the cross! Thank Jesus for forever wrecking doubt, religion, and death! Ask God to give you boldness to be able to honestly bring your questions and doubts to him so that he can take your doubt and transform it into important personal revelations for you, and a new way of living.