|Ciara Lilly is a Charlotte-area writer. Her faith-based column, Fishers of Men, is published here each Monday. Opinions expressed are solely her own.|
Text: John 20:24-29
I think most people have heard about doubting Thomas, but just in case you haven’t, here’s a concise breakdown of the story. Jesus has risen from his tomb, and He’s out giving impromptu visits to Mary Magdalene and his disciples. Now let’s just take a second to imagine how these visits would have gone if Jesus popped up at our house; I mean, here’s the same person you’ve just witnessed crucified three days prior. And now he’s standing right in front of your face! What would your reaction be?
All who saw Jesus rejoiced, but Thomas — who wasn’t present when the others saw Jesus — did not believe it. In fact, he didn’t even give them an opportunity to share the details. He immediately disqualified their experience by saying:
“24: Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25: So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hand and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’” Also known as “I’ll believe it when I see it!”
You may be asking, “What’s so bad about Thomas’ response?” That’s a great question. John 20:25 was a test of Thomas’ faith. Thomas wasn’t a stranger of Jesus’ teachings. He was a disciple. Yet, he still violated two common faith principles: do not doubt (Mark 11:23) and do not walk by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
I believe Thomas felt like Jesus’ resurrection was too good to be true, and he wasn’t about to get his hopes up. Does that sound familiar?
Personally, I can recall joining the “Believe It When I See It” Brigade. If it looked impossible or questionable, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I wouldn’t believe that I had received it when I prayed (as we’re instructed to do in Mark 11). I would believe it when my prayers manifested in the natural. When I could see it, then I would praise God. Now that we’re being honest, I know I’m not alone in this.
It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t walking by faith. As a matter of fact, I was doing the exact opposite! 2 Corinthians 5:7 states, “We live by faith, not by sight.” Faith looks at that mountain (the bills, the bad job, the troubled marriage) and applies the Word of God to it. Faith says, “I don’t care what things look like, I trust God.” Faith says, “I don’t have to understand to trust. (Proverbs 3:5-6)”
Just think about it. We’re not putting our faith in people. We’re putting our faith in Almighty God — our Creator, our Provider, our Savior. What can we possibly lose?
Let’s look at how the story ends: “26: …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!’ 27: 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.’ 28: Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29: Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
If we endeavor to grow in our faith, we have to release the need to see the manifestation of our prayers before we believe it. That’s not faith! We have to remember that God is worthy of our trust. He’s not requiring that you walk by faith for giggles. He wants to bless you. And faith is an essential ingredient.
So let’s make a decision to remove “I’ll believe it when I see it” from our vocabulary and replace it with an unwavering faith in the God who can do all things but fail.