I’ve written before about some of my uncertainty in regards to Christianity. A few weeks ago, I heard a sermon about doubt. The pastor spoke about the fact that she had had doubts as well, but that it actually increased her faith. My ears perked up and I came to attention. I took notes for the next 30 minutes like I was the star pupil in class.
She used the scripture readings regarding ‘Doubting Thomas’:
John 20:24-29 – Now Thomas, 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.”
This story initially makes me think, “Oh Thomas, you didn’t believe and then Jesus himself had to come back just to prove it to you. Your faith was weak”. But hold on just one minute! I know that some of us are more faithful than others here, but what if it were you? Seriously. If someone came to me and said that somebody had risen from the grave, I don’t know that I’d believe them either. I think Thomas gets a bad rap; the other disciples didn’t quite believe Mary when she told them initially either.
“I’ll believe it when I see it”. We all know that phrase, we’ve probably all said it. That’s all Thomas was saying. Although, Jesus basically told him, “You don’t need to see it to believe it. You heard it, and that should be enough”. But I guess some of us just need more than written words and passed down stories.
But on the other hand, we believe a lot that is told to us that we’ve never seen. I believe in Einstein’s Theory of Evolution, even though I don’t understand it or know how it works. I believe in a lot of scientific and mathematical laws, but only because other people say it’s true. Maybe I need to go look into them to confirm it for myself? Or I should just hear it and believe it?
According to Reverend Sandra Bottoms, associate pastor at Shady Grove UMC, faith and doubt are not opposites. Doubt is a gift from God to reassess our faith; it’s a nudge from the Holy Spirit to go seek answers. Questions help us grow and learn and can end up increasing our faith. If we are unsure of something we’ve read or heard, go find an answer, and I’ll bet that through your research you delve deep into some religious readings and end up more faithful in the end.
So, don’t feel bad that you doubt, we all do. Even Jesus’ disciples. The point is to learn and grow from it and end up a more trusting and believing Christian.
“I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists” – Robert Browing
Other readings regarding doubt:
Genesis 17:15-21 and 18:10-14 – both Abraham and Sarah doubted God regarding her giving him a son in her old age
Matthew 11:1-7 – John’s disciples questioned whether it was Jesus, or someone else performing miracles
Acts 1:3-4 A recount of Jesus’ multiple visits after the resurrection to convince everyone that he really was alive
Sermon by Sandra Bottoms at Shady Grove UMC 4/23/17