There’s one in every crowd. You might have heard them referred to as the:
I once knew a girl named Vanessa whose friends called her “Depressa”.
No one wants to carry these labels, but it seems that they just can’t help themselves. No matter the situation, they’re bent on negativity. They find the one needle in a haystack of good. They look for the minuscule worst in a sea full of best. In every situation they anticipate what will go wrong instead of noticing all that is going right. They’re the Eeyores of the world – these dear ones who can’t bring themselves to search for that blessed glimmer of hope; the light at the end of the tunnel.
Do you know someone like that?
Jesus did. Among the Twelve it was the disciple named Thomas. You and I – and even the unbelieving world – use the title “Doubting Thomas,” and for good reason. After Jesus rose from the dead the other disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” But Thomas didn’t see him, and until he did, he stubbornly stated that he would NEVER believe.
Those are fightin’ words at worst; pessimistic at best.
Now before we’re too hard on Thomas, I want you to see the whole of who he was. Just like modern-day pessimists, there’s always more to a person than first meets the eye. When we search Scripture, we find that it was Thomas who was willing to go with Jesus back into Judea to find a dead Lazarus when the other disciples feared danger and death (John 11). In Thomas’s mind, it would have been better to die with Jesus than to live without Him. And as the cross was drawing near, it was Thomas who didn’t understand where Jesus was going and earnestly questioned how to be with Him (John 14). It appears that he couldn’t stand the thought of being separated from his Lord. Even in Thomas’s pessimism, he had been courageously faithful. Even in his doubt, his loyal love for Jesus was evident. It was likely Thomas’s broken heart over Jesus’s death that fueled his pessimism to plunge into the deepest, despairing doubt.
Whatever his complexity of emotions, we can learn a few things from Thomas:
Distance can breed doubt. “Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.”
For whatever reason, Thomas found himself out of fellowship with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them after His resurrection. It appears that the other ten (minus Thomas and Judas Iscariot) were there. When we distance ourselves from God and other believers, we remove our very best chance for the interjection of truth, hope, and faith into even the darkest of situations. Left to ourselves, we’re much more likely to drift and let the voices of the world speak doubt into our fragile minds and hearts. God’s Word tells us to not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). Are you down and distancing yourself from God and other believers? It’s not good to be alone. Get back into the fold today, so that you can see and savor Jesus to the fullest.
Disbelief can breed dissension. “But he said to them, ‘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 never believe.'”
It’s difficult to know the tone of Thomas’s voice here, but it doesn’t sound like a positive one. Picture the scene: the other disciples are overjoyed upon seeing their risen Lord. Some of the key pieces of Jesus’s kingdom puzzle are just now coming together and there’s been a breakthrough moment for the others. Together they’ve been through earthly hell and back again, and they’re finally on a mountaintop of faith… when Thomas strongly voices his unbelief. You can just feel the shift of atmosphere at Thomas’s words, and that’s exactly what we do when we douse the fire of other’s proven faith with our firm unbelief. Dissension enters. Distraction ensues. Instead of focusing on forward kingdom thinking and the glory of God, Jesus’s very disciples are left divided and trying to convince one of their own. Is your unbelief causing dissension in the body? Instead, let’s model belief like that of Abraham, who “with respect to the promise of God, did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised,” (Romans 4:20-21).
Delay can breed deterioration. “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.”
Oh, what that week must have been like for Thomas – a miserable week of doubting, grieving, wondering, wishing, and waiting. If you’ve ever delayed walking in belief, you know that even one day of faith-wrestling living can seem like an eternity. Thomas’s delay in believing surely caused him a whole week of strife that, simply stated, could have been avoided if he would have only believed without seeing. James 1:6 says that the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Our minds, bodies, and spirits can deteriorate quickly when we harbor unbelief, even potentially leading us down a path of destruction. Are you in a season where your delayed faith is deteriorating your life, robbing you of living in the fullness of all God has for you? Remember Jesus’s pierced hands and feet; His blood that was shed for you; the empty tomb and sin and death defeated. Jesus’s resurrection power is available to those who believe. Don’t delay another day. Stop doubting and believe (John 20:27).
But oh, sweet Jesus. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus overcame the physical and Thomas’s flesh to bring His peace and presence.
Doubt turned to belief.
He did it for Thomas, and He can do it for you. Saturate your mind in His Truth, run into His presence, and cry out to Him in surrender today. He longs to help you believe.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29
*Let’s talk: Have you ever experienced doubt that involved distance, dissension, or deterioration? How did God help you overcome these situations?
At His feet,
Week 5 Challenge: On a notecard, write out the verse, “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24. Place this card where you can see it often as a reminder to surrender your doubts to the Lord this week.
Week 5 Reading Plan:
Week 5 Memory Verse: