Most of us would like to be known or remembered in a favorable light, to be associated with the finer moments in our life. Unfortunately, all of us have those moments we would just like to forget ever happened. We have said things or done things we are not proud of, things that just don’t represent the truth and reality of who we are at the core. Boy, are there ever people in the Bible who can relate!! Can you imagine having your less than exemplary moments in life recorded in a Book that millions and millions have read for thousands of years?! UGH! I shudder to think what that would be like! But such is the case with Thomas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
Thomas had been chosen by Jesus, the Son of God, to be one of His disciples. Thomas was committed to Jesus and to His ministry, even being willing to die with Him (John 11:16) and, according to historical accounts, died a martyr. Pretty impressive! But that’s not what he is remembered for. Nope. Of all the years Thomas followed Jesus, both before and after the Resurrection, Thomas is most remembered for ONE statement made in the midst of a lot of grief and confusion around the death of Jesus. Like all of Jesus’ followers, Thomas was rattled, to say the least, trying to make sense of all Jesus had taught them, all the miracles he had seen Jesus perform, all the claims he had heard Jesus make about Who He was only to see Jesus die on a cross. Thomas had not been with the other disciples when Jesus made His appearance among them after being resurrected. When they told Thomas they had seen Jesus and that He was alive, Thomas simply could not, would not, believe it and goes down in history for this single statement:
“Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25b
And there you have it. Being distraught with grief, one moment, one statement and Thomas is forever known as “Doubting Thomas.”
God taught me three lessons from this passage. The first lesson and perhaps the hardest, I am just like Thomas. God has said, I have read, God has confirmed through various means and yet I doubt. Even as I am older now and have a history to look back on and see His faithfulness and trustworthiness, I still doubt. God help me to believe You and Your Word even when I do not see the evidence of it in my life.
Second, God showed me that Jesus meets me where I’m at in my doubt (or whatever it may be). He doesn’t scold and isn’t harsh but, in a very direct, yet gentle, manner, corrects me. “Do not be unbelieving but believing.” And Thomas doesn’t respond in shame, as I am often prone to do when I realize the error of my ways. Instead, Thomas responds in awe as he realizes Who it is before Him, “My Lord and my God.” Thank You Jesus, my Lord and my God, that You love me enough to correct me but thank You for doing it in love, grace and mercy.
Finally, God convicted me how often I remember or point out the worst. I don’t recall Thomas as a disciple, one of only twelve chosen. I don’t remember the willingness of Thomas to die with Jesus. I don’t honor Thomas as one who died a martyr for His Lord. No, when I talk or speak of Thomas, I remember him as the one who didn’t believe. I label him for one moment in time when he was perhaps at his weakest. I refer to him as “Doubting Thomas.” I do this same thing to others and I do this to myself. No, we don’t sweep our points of failures under the rug. And we certainly need a word of truth and correction. But with ourselves and with others, we need to do so in a direct, loving way and without condemnation. Lord, help me to see others and myself as You see and respond with the same love, grace and mercy as You do.
Thank You God for being a God of second chances!