Spiritual Practice

Doubt Away!

Gerrit Scott Dawson

Why doesn’t Jesus show himself to us? Why doesn’t he write his love across the sky for everyone to see? If he’s real, why can’t we touch him?

Doubters often make the strongest believers. Thomas was one of Jesus’ disciples, but history has called him “Doubting Thomas.” As it turned out, Thomas, the guy known for not believing, made one of the boldest confessions of faith in the Bible. As we explore his story (in John 20:24–29), you may be encouraged. Doubt often leads to faith.

On Easter morning, the risen Christ met Mary Magdalene in the garden. She ran and told the other disciples, but they had trouble believing her report. Could a man who had been beaten, crucified, wrapped up in burial cloths, and sealed away in a tomb be up and walking around? That doesn’t happen! So most of the disciples stayed inside, with the doors locked, grieving for Jesus.

That evening, Jesus appeared inside the room. The disciples’ sadness turned to joy: Jesus was alive! But Thomas was not in the room when Jesus appeared. The other disciples told him the story, but he wanted proof. “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 it” (John 20:25b, NIV).

Doubting Thomas TS 118407643Thomas’ request seems reasonable to us. And it must have seemed that way to Jesus as well, for a week later he again appeared inside a locked room where the disciples were gathered. “Peace be with you,” he said. “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:26b–27, NIV).

Thomas received what he asked for—a personal appearance by the risen Christ. We don’t know if Thomas touched Jesus. But we hear him cry out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28, NIV). Jesus blew away his doubts.

But what about us and our doubts? Why doesn’t Jesus show himself to us? Why doesn’t he write his love across the sky for everyone to see? If he’s real, why can’t we touch him?

If we hold out until Jesus shows up one night in our room, it could be a long wait! Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, NIV). It’s as if Jesus froze this moment in time so that he could speak to all the generations of people who would believe without seeing.

devozine Reflective Guy FTR TS 80467216Our link to Jesus is through “Doubting Thomas,” who became “Believing Thomas.” Thomas is our man on the scene. He represents all of us who will never have a direct, physical encounter with the risen Christ. Jesus’ coming to Thomas was like saying, “I’m going to show myself to this one guy so that all of you will know that my witnesses are telling the truth.”

It’s OK to doubt. In fact, getting to know God means asking a lot of questions. But we shouldn’t get stuck in our doubts. When Jesus makes himself real to us, we should be ready, like Thomas, to cry out, “My Lord and my God!



William James said, “Our faith is faith in someone else’s faith.” Read 1 Corinthians 15:3–8. Imagine all the people over the centuries who have doubted and then believed.

REFLECT: Whose faith do you have faith in? Who told you about Jesus’ resurrection? Whom can you tell?

Gerrit Scott Dawson is a writer and pastor.

—from devozine (March/April 2002). Copyright © 2002 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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