Remember the Sure deodorant ads? "Raise your hand if you're "sure"!" Picture people raising their hands in classrooms, on the dance floor, on the basketball court, on a roller coaster, yada, yada, yada. The point? If you wear Sure deodorant you can be so sure about having sweet-smelling, sweatless underarms that you can raise your hand (Shoot! Your whole arm, for that matter!) with confidence.
Ah, if only it were that simple to be sure, to be certain.
But whether we like to admit it or not, most of us have our doubts about things...even things we're supposed to be sure about.
At times we doubt...
I've doubted all those things and more at times. But I'm not sure I would have admitted it at the time. Especially to God Himself.
- God will provide.
- God will answer our prayers.
- God's even paying attention.
- God cares.
- God can do anything at all about this particular situation.
- God loves us.
- God is good.
- God noticed the wrong someone else did.
- God will ever really bring justice.
- God will forgive.
Today I read about a guy who we often bash for his doubts: Thomas. Doubting Thomas, we've dubbed him. Poor guy. He indeed had some doubts. In John 11:16 he expresses his doubts in an offhanded, sarcastic sort of way. Jesus has just told the disciples that they'll be going to Bethany where His friend Lazarus has recently died. He has a plan and everything is under His omnipotent control. But Thomas finds that hard to believe. His response to Jesus' plan of action?
"Let's also go, that we may die with Him."
Do you hear the sarcasm? That's often what comes out of my mouth, too, when I don't quite believe something. I get a little snarly. I don't want to admit my doubts for the record; I just want to express them in a casual come-what-may-because-I-don't-really-care sort of way. Can you relate?
But before we get to the more infamous passage about doubting Thomas, I think the guy actually grows up a bit. You see, he's still doubting, but this time he owns his doubts. He's bold about it. He doesn't cloak his doubt in witty jabs; he just comes right out with it:
Unless I shall see in His hands
the imprint of the nails,
and put my finger into the place of the nails,
and put my hand into His side,
I will not believe.
No more surly sarcasm; this time Thomas just says it point blank: I've got some doubts and I need Jesus to clear them up.
Ah, the audacity. And yet, while the fellow apostles may have been aghast at Thomas' remarks, Jesus doesn't seem offended or disappointed in Thomas. Eight days later, when Jesus returns to the room where the disciples have gathered again, Jesus speaks directly and intentionally to Thomas' doubts.
"Thomas, reach here your finger,
and see My hands;
and reach here your hand,
and put it into My side;
and be not unbelieving,
I'm not really sure whether Thomas bothered to touch Jesus' scars or not. We're not told. We simply know that the man who had earlier expressed doubt now exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" Obviously he not only now believes Jesus is risen from the grave and standing before him, but he, more importantly, believes the risen Jesus is God Himself. Thomas goes from having serious doubts to having monumental faith. And that faith is now more specific in nature. He had believed in Jesus enough to follow Him around the countryside for the three years, but now he believes in Him enough to put his complete trust and faith in Him. He has proclaimed Him Lord and God. That's a pretty impressive transformation.
So how did Thomas get to the point of huge, life-changing faith? He admitted his doubts and declared that only Jesus Himself could clear them up.
I think the lesson for me today is that when I have doubts--and we all do--I shouldn't try to swallow them, ignore them, pretend them away, or disguise them with sarcasm. I should confess them directly to Jesus and allow Him, in His own time (He delayed 8 days with Thomas), to set them right. And I believe that when I do that Jesus can then move me from doubting a little to believing a lot.
So this morning I did just that. I told the Lord about a few of the things I'm having a hard time believing right now. I confessed my little faith and asked Him to increase it. I admitted my lack of vision, my desire for proof, my skepticism. And I know He'll get back with me on all of those things, just like He did with Thomas. Why? Because He wants me to believe. According to John 20:29 I think Jesus would like for me to get to a point where I don't question nearly as much as I do, and that's my goal too. But until I get there, I think He'd have me take those doubts to Him rather than simply allow my insecurities to grow.
Don't be afraid, dear friend, to raise your hand if you're unsure. With Jesus there are no stupid questions and there are no doubts He'll refuse to address. And after you've raised your hand and confessed your doubt, my bet is that Jesus will fortify you with a new, more powerful faith so you can be an even more convincing witness for His faithfulness.
Tradition has it that Thomas later spread the gospel to India and helped dispel others' disbelief about the resurrection. That's what can happen when we allow Jesus to address our doubts head-on. So raise your hand if you're not sure!
Labels: Walk Through the Bible