Text: John 20:24-29
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” —Jesus (John 20:29)
It’s been said that while some have issues with doubt, others have full subscriptions!
Though some of us may be more cynical and skeptical than others, we all struggle with matters of doubt and unbelief. Those who pretend to never wrestle with such matters may masquerade a jazzy religious façade, but I would question their authenticity.
A faith that is able to weather the storms of life is a faith that has been tested; it’s been refined through the fires of doubt, fear, insecurity, skepticism, and trepidation. Perhaps this is why Fyodor Dostoyevski could say, “It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.”
Or as poet Tennyson wrote:
“There lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds.”
In a certain sense, being honest about our doubts is an essential aspect of leaning into the unseen power of His grace (see Proverbs 3:5-6). Yet while we grapple with this honesty, we must also live in the tension that God wants to rescue us from our doubts and trepidation. We can’t escape the fact that unbelief inhibits the work that God ultimately wants to accomplish in and through our lives (Matthew 13:58, James 1:6, Hebrews 11:6, John 20:27).
In our world of “seeing is believing,” the unseen doesn’t hold much stock. Yet Jesus raised this premium when he told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas stubbornly refused to believe unless the conditions were met on his terms. Thomas put obstinate demands on his faith (John 20:25). This degree of unbelief wasn’t sugarcoated in scripture, but given a candid narration. To his credit, Thomas never pretended to believe when he did not believe.
There was no masquerading here. No hypocrisy.
Jesus wasn’t obligated to meet Thomas on the terms he demanded; yet in his merciful kindness, we suppose, Jesus gave him what he asked for. This interaction depicts a picture of the resurrected Christ full of love, grace, patience, and gentleness toward His disciples. “The whole conversation was indeed a rebuke, but so veiled with love that Thomas could scarcely think it so,” observed Charles Spurgeon.
Jesus acted as a good and tender Shepherd to Thomas in his doubts. Jesus never ennobled his unbelief; rather, He rescued him despite this weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). This is grace in action.
The faith of Thomas does indeed become the climax of John’s Gospel. Throughout the book, our Lord has triumphed over sin, sickness, demonic activity, corrupt leaders, death and sorrow. And now with Thomas, Jesus has even conquered unbelief. Though doubt and unbelief may be checkpoints along the path to a growing faith, they should never become destinations, or “safe houses” where we seek cover from the Lord’s tender and gentle rebuke.
Faith is not a belief without doubts, it’s a trust that grace is greater than our doubts. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.
Heavenly Father, though it may be commendable to admit the sincerity of our struggles with doubt, may we do so without ennobling them. May our highest hosanna be found in the nobility of your amazing grace—that grace which rescues us despite all of our weaknesses and shortcomings. May you meet us in the center of all our doubts, fears, and trepidation, and may we be willing to accept your gentle rebuke where it is needed. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- When have you heard a story that sounded too good to be true?
- When have you had doubts about your faith in Christ? Out of what conditions were these doubts born?
- It’s been said that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. How might you explain this statement?
- Why is it important for us to be honest about our doubts and unbelief?
- Where do you need to accept the tender rebuke of Jesus on your doubts this week?
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