Have you been able to get out for daily walks/ exercise in these days? If you have you will have noticed that social distancing rules mean it’s not straight forward to walk from ‘A to B’. I went out a couple of days ago and had to cross the road on a number of occasions or take a small detour and stop and pause on my journey, on one occasion, I had to go back a short distance so that it was safe for another person to pass by.
This made me think about my journey of faith, another journey that has not always been straight forward. I think many would say the same. Things happen that sometimes cause us to detour or cause us to stop and pause or even cause us to go back to a place we may have already been.
It may be that in these days of uncertainty you are finding your faith is being challenged or tested. Perhaps you are finding you need to stop and pause or maybe you need to go back and revisit some things.
There are many accounts in Scripture that I love to visit and re-visit. There are some characters that I can identify with from time to time but one of the characters I often identify with is Thomas who has become known to many as ‘Doubting Thomas’ because of the account found in:
24 One of the disciples, Thomas, “The Twin,” was not there at the time with the others.
25 When they kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord,” he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands—and put my fingers into them—and place my hand into his side.”
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them and greeting them.
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger into my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas said.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. But blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.”
Holy God, we come before you today and in these moments we just want to acknowledge who You are. Help us to slow down our minds and to focus on You and Your Word for us today. We praise and thank You because nothing can separate us from Your love for us and we know that, wherever we are today, however distanced we may find ourselves from loved ones, we can be confident that You are with us.
Lord Jesus, we have been reminded in past weeks of how You shared our humanity. You know what it is like to experience the range of emotions that we experience. In these moments help us to acknowledge our thoughts and feeling, our joys and our cares, our hopes and our dreams for today and for the future and bring them before You just now.
There are so many people who we lift to You today, people who are working in so many different capacities to keep our country functioning…..health workers, supermarket workers, scientists, media personnel, researchers….and so, so many others. We pray for their protection, for well-being and for stamina to keep on going. We are grateful for the sacrifices they are making. We pray for wisdom for leaders in these days. Help them, with help and guidance from others, to make bold decisions.
As we look closer at Your Word to us just now, help us to open our hearts and our minds to that which You want us to hear for ourselves and for others today. We ask these things in the name of Jesus.
Isn’t it interesting how one thing, an action, one mistake, one incident, can sometimes define how others see you. People seem to quickly attach labels to other people, maybe not always intentionally, but it very often happens.
Thomas has such a label….. ‘Doubting Thomas’. He is remembered for one thing; his doubts over whether Jesus could actually really have conquered death and risen to life once again.
But there was more to Thomas. We don’t hear a lot about him until almost the end of Jesus’ earthly life but we do get a glimpse of his character. In Matthew’s gospel Thomas is often linked with Matthew and appears to be a very loyal friend. In fact, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was dead and spoke of His need to go to back to the place where the people were trying to stone Him, it was Thomas who said “Let’s go too – and die with Jesus” (John 11:16). Thomas was the one who realised Jesus’ life was in danger and he was actually willing to die with Jesus at that point. Thomas was loyal and he was devoted to Jesus. He was a faithful follower who just desperately wanted to understand all that was happening.
On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus is sharing with His followers and explaining to them that they didn’t need to be fearful…..
“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. 3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4And you know where I am going and how to get there.” (John 14:1-4)
But Thomas breaks in……’NO! we don’t know Lord. We have no idea where you’re going so how can we know the way?”
Thomas had questions. He was looking for answers. He needed to understand.
I can relate to Thomas. Perhaps you can too. It’s not easy to live with uncertainty.
Being unsure about any situation can cause fear, anxiety, worry……we can lose sleep, be unsure of what to do next…….. It can be a scary place to be. It can leave you feeling out of control, hopeless, helpless. We’ve probably all been there, we may even be there today. Although we each differ in just how much ambiguity we can live with, our human nature likes to have some sense of order; we like some things to be predictable.
For Thomas, many things had changed. It wasn’t just that he had lost Jesus, although that was enough in itself, but now all his friends were making some pretty radical claims…..had they lost their minds?
I think Thomas may have been a bit of a deep thinker. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t with the rest of the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them behind locked doors. Maybe he had taken himself off to a quiet space, a place without any distractions to just try and fathom everything out; to try and make some sort of sense of the shifting sand beneath his feet.
Did Thomas doubt? Yes he did but when we think about it, he is among some of God’s greatest men and women in the Bible.
Look in Genesis 17:17 you’ll see how Abraham laughed to himself at the thought of becoming a dad at his ripe old age – he doubted!
Read Genesis 18:12 Sarah also laughed at the thought of a worn out woman like her having a baby –she doubted it could happen!
Moses doubted that he could lead the people out of Israel (Exodus 3) and the whole of the people of Israel doubted that God would provide for their needs.
Gideon doubted God.
Zechariah doubted God!
It was nothing new that Thomas doubted; many great people of faith before him had and many great people of faith since him have doubted God.
Have you ever doubted God?
I have discovered that being in a place of doubt is actually not necessarily a bad place to be. Doubt for me, is not the opposite of faith, rather doubt is a part of my faith. Being in a place of doubt can be a good place to be if we allow that doubt, that questioning to drive us deeper into discovering who God is. If having doubts drives us into knowing the power and presence of God; if we allow that questioning to throw us back on God, then it can be such a valuable place to be.
Thomas had doubts, he was uncertain and so he looked for something concrete, he wanted evidence.
“I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands—and put my fingers into them—and place my hand into his side.”
Thomas would have wrestled with this uncertainty all week but then Jesus broke in.
He came and stood right there where Thomas was and said ‘peace be with you’.
Imagine feeling helpless, hopeless, out of control, anxious for today, fearful of tomorrow and Jesus comes and stands there with you and whispers ‘Shalom’….peace be with you!
Jesus addressed Thomas’ doubts………“Put your finger into my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
I have a feeling that Thomas’ real problem was not so much his questions and doubts but rather his lack of belief, his lack of faith.
Did you notice just what Thomas did when Jesus appeared?
He didn’t put his finger into the hole in Jesus’ hands or place his hand on His side. Instead he simply confessed “My Lord and my God!.
In these days of uncertainty, when questions and worries can fill our minds, when anxiety for today and fears for tomorrow can dominate our thoughts, when doubts can creep in and faith can diminish, I pray that you become aware of the risen Lord Jesus standing right alongside you. I encourage you to turn your eyes upon Him, allow any questions and doubts to lead you into knowing the power and presence of God. Proclaim Jesus as your Lord and your God and trust Him with the unknown future.
Thank you for reading.
Written by Captain Rachel Price.
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