by Colleen Swindoll Thompson
I think Thomas the apostle gets a bad rap. Nicknamed “Doubting Thomas,” he is often negatively characterized and judged in many Christian circles. Who would want to be looked down upon as a doubter? Have any of us lived without wrestling with doubt? When our faith grows deep, doubt is often a part of the process. The following passage offers a wealth of freedom and hope to all who experience doubt.
Now Thomas . . . one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24–28 NIV)
First, I want to mention four observations:
- Thomas, one of the 12 disciples, was chosen by Christ and had close fellowship with Him.
- Thomas was not present when Christ appeared to the disciples the first time.
- Thomas was told by the other disciples that Christ appeared.
- Thomas verbalized his need to see Christ’s hands, feet, and side so that he could believe.
Next, one must remember that Thomas had just watched one of his closest friends viciously and violently killed. Watching, hearing, and experiencing such fierce brutality is extremely traumatizing. It is impossible to know how Thomas’ mind, body, and spirit were affected by his grief and by the intensity of such trauma. Considering these realities, I’m filled with compassion for Thomas. He was overwhelmed and had a hard time believing the disciples’ report about Jesus’s resurrection.
But that was not the end of the story. A week passed and Thomas was gathered together with the gang once again. Jesus miraculously appeared, spoke peace, and then turned to Thomas. I get so excited here because, remember, Thomas told the disciples, not Jesus, what he needed. But Jesus knew Thomas and repeated some of Thomas’ exact words . . . hand, side, finger . . . to help Thomas believe. What love, what comfort, what grace!
“Peace Be with You”
If you happen to be one who struggles to believe, I understand. Sometimes I wrestle with trusting in what I cannot see. May the following passages encourage and lift your soul.
God Is Our Sustainer
I cried to the LORD with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. (Psalm 3:4–5 NKJV)
God Is Our Guide
Now thanks be to God who always leads us into triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)