The Book of John chapter 20 tells us that, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples—all but one—in a locked room. The apostle Thomas wasn’t in the room with the other disciples when Christ appeared, so he didn’t believe it had actually happened. It took Jesus showing up a week later—this time Thomas was with the disciples—for him to stop doubting and believe.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”John 20:29
Would We Have Doubted Christ?
How many of us would have believed? We probably would have had our doubts too, if placed in a similar position. It’s only human to feel this way—unless you have sufficient faith. This can affect how we live and relate to other people.
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What can we learn from Thomas?
1. Faith doesn’t mean there won’t be moments of doubt.
Have you found yourself in situations where you wonder whether God is truly with you? Maybe you’ve had some challenges with dark moments in your family, deep financial holes you can’t seem to crawl out of, a bad illness, or even that moment of helplessness when you have a loved one dying in your arms? Do you ever feel like God is unresponsive or distant? It can take a toll on your faith.
Having faith doesn’t mean you will not face trying times. There will be periods of questions and uncertainties. And just like the father of the boy possessed with an impure spirit, you can come to Christ in honesty and pray for strength and trust in God.
“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”Mark 9:24
2. Faith sometimes means we won’t have proof.
It took Thomas actually seeing the risen Christ to truly believe. However, remember that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Sometimes, as Jesus said to Martha outside Lazarus’s tomb, we need to choose to believe first, before we can see the glory of God.
There will be moments—many, in fact—where the only thing you will be holding onto is God’s word, without an iota of tangible evidence to back you up. However, we must still choose to believe in Him.
3. You can rely on your community when you struggle.
Sure, Thomas doubted since he wasn’t around when Jesus first appeared to the disciples in the locked room—but he did not leave the group. While he had his doubts, he still showed up and stayed with the disciples. Because of that, he was there when Jesus appeared the following week. Thomas did not separate from his community in spite of their differences, and he got another chance to share their experience.
Your faith is founded in your own experience of God. It’s rooted in your deepest convictions. You can’t just believe because your family or friends have believed. However, there are situations where the faith of those around us provides much-needed support as we go through those trying times. While they can’t believe for you, the Christian community (loved ones, friends, fellow-churchgoers) can help you stay the course during that turbulence in your life.
4. You are not defined by one moment.
While a lot has been said about Thomas and his doubt, there is more to his path. For instance, when Jesus informed the disciples that he was going to see Lazarus in Judea, they reminded Him that the Jews had just tried to stone Him. But what did Thomas say?
“Let us also go, that we may die with him.”John 11:16
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This moment that depicted Thomas’s courage doesn’t define him entirely, and neither does the moment of doubt. Like Thomas, we all have moments that we cherish and are proud of, and others that we would do anything to forget. They are part of our journey.
Thomas’ faith grew eventually—from the moment he witnessed the risen Christ, to the day he received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and all through his journey of spreading the Gospel.
The Christian journey is not all smooth sailing. However, as long as you stay close to God and remember His promises, your faith will remain steadfast and continue growing.