A Note from Carol: I love giving some of my friends a voice on my Joy for the Journey blog. This week, Angela Donadio shares some insight on a topic we all struggle with from time to time: doubt. I pray that her fresh perspective will encourage your spirit this week and help you walk one step closer to Jesus.
Have you ever wondered if God is good, even when life is not? Disappointment bruises the bravest of souls. In a season of crippling uncertainty, I called the wisest veteran pastor I know – my dad. Together, we talked about the doubt and confusion many faced during a worldwide pandemic. The conversation turned to the apostle most often referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” Perhaps you know Thomas for his bouts with doubt. But Jesus knew Thomas for the courage to question and the bravery to believe. That conversation with my dad, Hubert Morris, led to what would become our new book, “Brave Enough to Believe – How the Life of Doubting Thomas Answers Our Hard Questions.” Through four major encounters between Thomas and Jesus, we discover Jesus’ invitation to come closer no matter what tries to drive us away.
In John 20, we find the last and perhaps most poignant encounter between Thomas and Jesus. As the passage unfolds, we witness the beautiful conclusion to the story of a man broken by circumstances. Something in Thomas died alongside Jesus at the crucifixion. Thomas withdrew from the others and isolated himself from those who witnessed the greatest miracle. Jesus resurrected from the dead and appeared to His apostles – and Thomas missed it all. When we face a crisis of faith, the worst thing we can do is isolate ourselves from the community of other believers. When we do, like Thomas, we may miss the peace, the reassurance, and the empowerment we long for. The determined apostles pursued Thomas to join them again. When they told him they had seen Jesus alive, he declared, “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” (John 20:25). Skeptical, Thomas wanted proof. Afraid to hope and depleted from disappointment, he could not be content with hearsay or someone else’s experience. Yet, beneath what might seem like a simple request lay a darker truth: Thomas doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. He attached an “unless” to his willingness to believe.
God welcomes our questions. His Word can stand up to the strongest of scrutiny. But unresolved doubt can lead to the deconstruction of our faith. Some of us, without even noticing, allowed our faith to erode through one word: unless. We may not have ever uttered the phrase aloud, but our belief systems have become so shattered that we don’t know how to restart. We put God’s character on trial when something didn’t turn out like we thought it should. Or we withhold full confidence in God until something turns out like we think it should. Jesus already knows our unless places. He meets us there, but He doesn’t want us to stay there. We can invite the Holy Spirit to help us come to grips with our doubts so we can grab hold of faith. Faith replaces the word unless with regardless. “Regardless of the questions that remain in this life, I will believe.”
John 20:26 records the second time Jesus appeared to the apostles, and this time, back in community, Thomas was there. Jesus appeared behind locked doors, physically and spiritually, to unlock the potential in Thomas. As Thomas’ eyes met those of his risen Savior, we can only imagine what he must have felt. Jesus didn’t wait for an apology or remind Thomas of his failure. Without hesitation, Jesus gave an invitation: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side” (John 20:27). Jesus knew exactly what Thomas needed. A crisis of faith had revealed his deepest doubt, but Jesus answered his deepest longing.
Don’t miss the order of Jesus’ words. First came Jesus’ invitation, asking Thomas to come closer. Then came the imperative: “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Before Jesus ever issued a command, He initiated restoration. Jesus didn’t withdraw from Thomas and doesn’t withdraw from us. We are not the sum total of our worst moments. We are known, wanted, and loved by the God who created us. No matter what we have done or what has been done to us, when we encounter Jesus, we are invited in.
With full surrender, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). The original Greek literally reads, “The Lord of me and the God of me.” Calling Him “Lord,” Thomas used the word Kurios, asking Jesus to be the owner of his life. He traded his doubts for a life of brave faith. God used Thomas in astounding ways. The man who once hesitated to believe now invited others to experience the miraculous and know Christ for themselves. He took the Gospel to India, further than any other apostle, where he was martyred for his faith.
We, too, are invited to get close enough to Jesus so that faith becomes the driving force of our lives. Because more than anything, we need an encounter with Jesus: that’s the answer to our hard questions. As a conduit of grace to a broken world, you will bring light into dark places and hope into hurting hearts. Friend, you can trust Jesus. Be brave enough to believe and let Him be the owner of your life.
“Brave Enough to Believe – How the Life of Doubting Thomas Answers our Hard Questions” available now. Visit angeladonadio.com.
How to Lead Someone to the Lord
salvationCarol McLeodJanuary 18, 2023salvation, sin
Used with permission from carolmcleodministries.com.