Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” 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 not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)
Okay, I have to admit it, I tend to give Thomas a bit of a hard time. Every time I read this story I'm like, "Come on man!" Thinking that maybe somehow I would not have had the same reaction. Who am I kidding? Maybe I have a hard time relating because my particular set of doubts don't look exactly like his. Which can lead me to believe (wrongly, I might add) that I don't struggle with doubt. Which is a complete joke. Of course I do! In fact, when I take any time at all to venture into this fragile heart of mine I quickly realize that I am filled with doubt. My doubt, however, does not tend to be the kind that makes me wonder if there is a God, or if he is really there. My doubt has more to do with really believing that God loves me and that I am of immense value to him. It seems that no matter how hard I try to convince myself, I just can't become fully persuaded that it's true. It's the old "it's not you, it's me" line. My doubt seems to have more to do with how I feel about myself than how I feel about my God. A wise saint once said that the most important thing you believe about God is what you think God believes about you. That's where the major breakdown is for me. And that sort of doubt has a significant impact on how I live my life.
Since I am filled with doubt about myself and my value it can make me pretty needy inside; constantly in search of affirmation, constantly in pursuit of achievement, constantly in need of acceptance, constantly seeking significance--all in order to somehow prove to myself and to my world that I am worth loving. Thus, I am often filled with insecurity and anxiety, especially when things are not going according to plan. That make me frustrated, critical, and defensive; often somehow making me see people as threats and competitors rather than as human beings deserving my love and compassion.
And though I might not feel like my doubt is the same as that of Thomas, the words Jesus speaks to Thomas speak directly to me as well. Jim, put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. This is how much I love you. Enough to allow all of this to be done to me. How can you possibly question my love? How can you possibly question your value? Stop doubting and believe!
Which brings up the same reply from deep within me: "My Lord, and my God!" I believe. And for a while all is well in my heart and life once again. That is, until I begin to forget. That's why I have been trying to relive this encounter several times each day--whenever doubt or fear or insecurity or anxiety or frustration begin to rear their ugly head. And when I do, I hear my Beloved Jesus once again telling me to put your finger here, see my hands, and touch my side. And once again his truth has set me free.
Thanks be to God for his unfailing love and relentless pursuit.