I have a friend named Thomas, and we have everything in common.
Except for the fact that he’s a guy, centuries old, and- oh yeah- dead.
Other than that, we’re practically twins… doubting twins, that is.
Thomas doubted Jesus’s appearance after the crucifixion. Jesus was, after all, dead. Dead men don’t rise and walk. Dead men don’t talk. And dead men definitely don’t walk through locked doors.
And yet, there stood Jesus in all His heavenly-resurrected glory.
Thomas still didn’t buy it. He asked for proof. As in scarred hands and peephole sides.
Jesus obliged, but not without the admonition to “stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).
And believe Thomas did… right after he touched the proof for himself. As he touched the days old scarring on Jesus’s hands, he remembered the cross. He remembered the gruesome crucifixion and the horrifying death of his Lord. As his hand slipped into Jesus’s pierced side, his doubt gave way to the tidal wave of belief.
Jesus was who He said He was.
My life has been riddled with Thomas’s influence. I doubt God at every major intersection. In high school I doubted His existence. I doubted His love, His sovereignty, His wisdom, His judgement… I even doubted His character. I didn’t believe what the Bible said, what my family said, or even what my gut said. I rebelled against all promising words with the self-assuring voice of doubt.
Doubt, after all, wouldn’t let me down. Doubt would never leave me disappointed, forsaken, or forgotten. Faith, on the other hand, had the potential to wreak havoc on my life. When crisis came, it was easier to doubt than have faith. Why risk hope only to be disappointed? Why believe in God when everything around you seems to disprove His existence? Why believe in His love when no one around will love you? Why believe in a God who seems to be so distant, so demanding, and so imaginary?
These are the questions doubt raises in defense against faith. It attacks the very person of God. Doubt isn’t just disbelief over a couple hundred miracle fishes; doubt is the fear that God is not who He says He is.
When you don’t believe God is who He says He is, the foundation of your world crumbles. Your thoughts, once so rational, are now described as being of the irrational variety. Your emotions, once so stable, now fluctuate like the stormy seas in the middle of a hurricane. You complain about life. You burrow within yourself… and you lash out against everything God says He is.
After all, you ask, what good is it to believe God when nothing seems to be going according to His word? What if His so-called promises took a detour? What if I’ve been waiting for the proof for years? Why should I hope, why should I trust, why should I believe… and then be disappointed in the end?
All good questions that I’ve asked myself time and time again (remember- I’m a doubter).
I can’t answer for God. Only He can tell you why your “hopes” seem to always come crashing down to a Wiley Coyote boom. Only He can assure you of His presence in that dark night. Only He can arm-wrestle your doubts and show you why faith always wins. Only He can convince you of who He is.
When I moved out here to Colorado, I expected big things. I expected God to feel nearer than ever because I was walking in His will. I expected Him to move the mountain of employment for me and to blow my socks off with a super fantabulous job. I expected a lot of things and ended up with the few things not included on my list of expectations.
To put it mildly, I started doubting. Big time.
If God won’t even do the small things like find me a job I actually like, then why should I trust Him for the big things? Why should I trust that He loves me? Why should I trust that He will protect me? Why should I trust in His plan when my plan seems so much better?
And so the doubts began.
They drilled deep, and each vibration of the drill refocused my attention on my God-sized disappointment. The drill chipped away at His character until all I saw was another fallen man trying to make promises He couldn’t keep.
I couldn’t handle it.
I couldn’t handle the doubts raised in my mind, so instead of voicing them, I stuffed them. I pretended that they weren’t there. I dressed them up in the dress clothes of faith and walked through each day, consciously aware of the swish-swish of the fabric hiding my pain.
It wasn’t until recently that I figured out my problem. God was not the issue; I was. Somewhere along the way I confused “who God says He is” with “who I say God is”. Somewhere along the journey from faith to doubt, I lost sight of the truth: God doesn’t play by my rules.
He sees things I don’t even see. When I complain that He’s “breaking His promises once again”, He sees the promise-fulfilled- over the horizon. When I worry that He’s abandoned me forever, He positions His love in the silence of the dark. When I lash out because of my circumstances, He stands strong because He knows the plans. He’s not a genie-in-a-bottle god; He’s God.
He can handle my anger. He can handle my disappointment. He can handle my frustrations. He can handle my doubt.
In fact, sometimes I think He cherishes my moments of complete insanity because it’s in those moments that He can lift up my hands and let me touch His side for myself.
In those moments, I know God is who He says He is. It doesn’t matter what doubt whispers in my ear; I know beyond it’s shadow that He’s got me in His hands, waiting to catch me once again.