I saw a poster recently that showed Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. The caption was, “He Had Doubts – Why Can’t You?” It is there in the garden that Jesus prays, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me…”
In the Gospel appointed for today, the Sunday after Easter (John 20:19-31), we hear the story of Thomas and his desire to see the mark of the nails for himself, just as his fellow Apostles did when they first encountered the risen Lord. Thomas has been saddled with the name of “Doubting” Thomas ever since.
I stand by my idea that doubts are the dumbbells of faith. Doubts exercise and give strength to our faith. Besides, it is clearly reported that Jesus himself exercised his faith with doubts too. Therefore, I think it is okay for us to experience times of doubt. Besides, it’s not a very strong faith that can’t handle a bit of doubt. Yet, doubt is no place to build a condo and make a home. In the very next line, after Jesus expressed his doubts, he says, “…yet not what I want but what you want.” Jesus moves on and seeks to do God’s will.
Often when I preach about Thomas I focus on his doubts, with the hope that I can alleviate some of the guilt we feel because of the doubts we experience. Doubts that are a perfectly natural human experience. Doubts are not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to strengthen our faith. Besides, the encounter between Thomas, the Apostles and Jesus is not really about doubt. It is about peace, forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.
The very things this world needs the most. Like a rock on the road before us, easily acquired by the simple effort of picking it up. Doubts help strengthen faith, as do peace, forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.