8-14-2012 Doubt

Welcome to today's blog! Before we begin, please pray for God to open your heart to His Word - simply surrender all that is swimming through your mind right now, receive His Word and His Spirit, and become willing to act on wherever His Word leads you today! John 20:24-31 -- 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.”

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

As a Public Relations major in college, I learned very quickly not to believe everything I am told/shown/read. I learned the falsifying twists that can be thrown into advertising of all types, studied "yellow journalism" during its infamous heyday, read muckraking literature that swayed public opinion and explored why it did, and developed a strong aversion to over-the-top sales techniques.

After my college experiences, I'm afraid my reaction to reports that Jesus were alive would be very similar to Thomas - I just wouldn't be able to believe it until I could see it. How mind-blowing it must have been to Thomas to hear that the teacher and leader he loved - who he watched DIE and BE BURIED - is alive! How can a human mind even conceive it was possible? I'm thankful that the possibility of Christ's resurrection has always been a part of my existence, so it's always been within my vernacular as truth. But if had come to the Christian faith without a lifelong leading through it, it would have been a very difficult leap for me to make.

I fully get why Thomas reacted the way he did.

What is so powerful and humbling, though (and often left out of the "Doubting Thomas" story so often quoted), is that Thomas didn't stop in the middle of his doubt. He didn't call his friends crazy and walk away. No, he continued life with them. He continued gathering with them, which is why he was present at Jesus' appearance a week later. Even with the uncertainty of doubt, Thomas stayed true to Christ's calling for him as a disciple.

And I love how Jesus meets Thomas right where his doubt has taken him. He knows exactly what Thomas needs for reassurance and "proof". He knows that Thomas' doubt doesn't rise out of disbelief but out of the inability see beyond his own experiences. Jesus gently and compassionately teaches him to look beyond his own understanding. It's a lesson that Thomas must learn in order to lead other believers to Christ that will not have the chance to see and touch Christ in living flesh.

Some people need to doubt before they believe. If doubt leads to questions, questions lead to answers, and the answers are accepted -- then doubt has done good work. It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a prideful lifestyle that doubt harms faith. When you doubt, don't stop there. Let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer.

What have your experiences with "doubt" been like? How have you held on to your faith in those "doubtful" times? How is God calling you to address those areas in life where doubt exists - maybe you don't even have full awareness of them, because doubt has existed for so long?

I know that, for me, doubt has a huge stronghold in my life in the area of health and fitness. It's a constant struggle for me to realize that Christ reigns in this area as much as He does in every other aspect of my life. I'm not the one in control and can follow His leading in this area, even if it doesn't make sense to me on how to do that. I love the image Delton used on Sunday of "Pressing Into Him". Not simply holding on, but leaning in, drawing as close as I can reach, eliminating any distance between Christ and me as much as I possibly can. I know I haven't been doing that in this area - maybe that is what I am being called to surrender, receive and act upon at this time. I've certainly been waiting to see proof of Him acting in this area before I will believe that He has control. "Blessed are those that that have not seen and yet believed...."