By Pastor Ralph J. Mineo
One of my favorite prayers in the Bible was spoken by the apostle Thomas. It’s a short and simple prayer, a confession of faith: “My Lord and my God.” Thomas spoke this one week after Jesus rose from the dead.
On that first Easter Day, the apostles were in a locked room, in fear for their lives. After all, their Rabbi had been executed, and they were his followers. Were they next? That evening, the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to them. For some reason, Thomas wasn’t with them at the time. They later told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
Thomas had his doubts and said so. For centuries, this moment of doubt gave Thomas the well-known nickname “Doubting Thomas.” The following week, the disciples were gathered together again. Thomas was with them this time. The Risen Lord Jesus appeared to them again. What DIDN’T happen next is, I think, extremely important. Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas for his doubts. Jesus didn’t degrade Thomas for not believing strongly enough. Jesus wasn’t afraid of doubts and struggles. Instead Jesus embraces who have them. In fact, when he entered the room, Jesus said to everyone there, “Peace be with you.”
What Jesus DID was even more important. Jesus invited Thomas to believe. He gave Thomas the choice to believe or not. Jesus was saying, “Here I am for you.” In fact, because Thomas had said he wouldn’t believe unless he touched the scars and the wound in Jesus’ side, Jesus invited Thomas to touch him, but we’re not told that he did that. I think he probably did not. Instead Thomas responded with a prayer of faith. He looked Jesus in the eyes and said, “My Lord and my God.”
With a powerful affirmation like that, I think he should be called “Believing Thomas.” But his doubts are remembered historically more than his faith. It’s almost as if doubts are wrong and unacceptable. No, the doubts led Thomas to faith.
Consider this, a quotation from Helen Keller: “It need not discourage us if we are full of doubts. Healthy questions keep faith dynamic. Unless we start with doubts we cannot have a deep-rooted faith. One who believes lightly and unthinkingly has not much of a belief. One who has a faith which is not to be shaken has won it through blood and tears – has worked their way from doubt to truth as one who reaches a clearing through a thicket of brambles and thorns.”
We are invited into faith as Thomas was invited. That invitation came in the words that followed Thomas’ prayer: “Blessed are those who have not seen [the scars] and yet believe.”
Try this three-step spiritual exercise. (1) Think of your doubts, troubles, stresses, pain, struggles, etc. (2) Imagine the Risen Lord Jesus standing in front of you. Look into his eyes and say three times: “My Lord and my God.” (3) Finally, listen, and hear Jesus speak to you, three times, “Peace be with you.”
May you experience the peace of Christ as you face every doubt and struggle. I say to you, as Jesus said to the apostles, “Peace be with you.” Think of someone in your life who needs that peace. Pass it on! Jesus, our Lord, our God, will speak his peace through you.