Dear FPC Youth,
I can’t believe we are in week 7 of LivingRoom Lessons! I hope you are enjoying the lessons, and I would love your suggestions of any future topics you’d like me to discuss. This week’s children’s LivingRoom Lesson is on Doubting Thomas, so I thought we’d explore that as well, just through a slightly different lens than the kids. ?
John 20:24-31 (NRSV)
Jesus and Thomas
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Basically, Thomas happens to not be there when Jesus decided to pop in for a visit.
Maybe he was out grabbing some lunch or checking on a neighbor – who knows?
When Thomas gets back, the disciples are all excited and say
– you’ll never guess who was just here!
Thomas simply says – well, I need some proof because that sounds totally unbelievable!
Thomas listens to the other disciples go on and on about this for 7 days!
Then, all of a sudden, the resurrected Jesus shows back up again
– and says to Thomas, basically “This is what you prayed for,
so here you go – touch it!”
Thomas realizes that God answers our prayers,
even when they sound a little more like demands
(“I won’t believe unless I can …”)
Then, Thomas, after seeing this amazing thing that God has done, decides he WILL believe!
Now, I will admit. I was unfamiliar with the rest of Thomas’ story …
So, I checked to see what happened to Thomas after that episode of doubt and belief with which we are all so familiar. I learned that afterwards, he travelled to far-off regions of what is modern-day India to preach the gospel. He spent the rest of his life telling other people the Good News about Jesus.
What’s the Take-away?
Well, some people might say that the “Doubting Thomas” story is meant to tell us that we should believe even though we don’t see – and just leave it at that. And, ultimately as Christians, we are called to do just that – have faith in an unseen God. But, Thomas is so essentially human to me in this story. We all have doubts and we all have times that we question “What’s going on?” in our world, or “Where is God in all of this?” But — Jesus didn’t tell Thomas that he never should have doubted; instead, he gave Thomas the evidence he asked for and then said “stop doubting.” Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; in fact, it provides the open-window opportunities for our faith to be strengthened.
So I think that the most important part Thomas’ story lies not in that he doubted, but in that his doubts were answered – and then, reaffirmed in his faith, he began to teach and affirm the faith of others. And if we listen and look closely, we can “see” all the ways that God shows Himself to us – He is present when we gather for worship, when we share communion, when we notice the beauty of nature, when we can’t get that worship song out of our heads, when we celebrate the recovery of a friend from a health scare, AND when we cry out to Him in the midst of our despair.
Sometimes as humans, we crave “proof” and we want black and white answers to our questions: Yes or No? Wrong or Right? True or False? We can challenge God to give us more and more proof – OR we can say to Him “We are listening. We know You are there.” Jesus doesn’t want us to hide our doubts because His love and understanding are bigger than any of our doubts! We can intentionally look and listen for His guidance in our lives – and we can accept the challenge of sharing our faith in Him with others.
I know the weeks ahead will bring schoolwork to finish and exams to take, so know that I’m praying for you all. Have a blessed week, friends!