Have you ever seen trouble brewing or feared unpleasant consequences if a behavior or course of action wasn’t changed, but had no power to stop it from happening? The incidents can range from something minor like, “That is going to break if it isn’t put up,” to “Our family will be ruined if you don’t stop … ,” fill in the blank. The behavior continues, the consequence occurs, and we are left reeling and asking, “If I could see it coming, then why couldn’t I stop it, or why didn’t the person who could have stopped it listen to me?”
Thomas may have felt that way after Jesus was crucified. He saw trouble ahead if they returned to Jerusalem, and expressed it to the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him,” (John 11:16). Perhaps that was why it was so difficult for him to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. He had seen trouble ahead, he couldn’t get Jesus to comply with his warning, and the worse that could happen had happened, JUST LIKE HE KNEW IT WOULD!
I can think of incidents that happened when those who had the power or ability to act wouldn’t listen to my concern. One time ended with a broken mirror, another in a car wreck with months of treatment, another in a marriage that caused years of pain for many. I struggled with “counting it all joy,” when it seemed so needless (James 1:2). How can such trials be included in James admonition, when they could have been so easily avoided?
Looking at Thomas has helped my perspective. Thomas couldn’t believe anything good could come out of something that could have been avoided. In fact, he would not believe unless he could see and touch the risen Lord’s scars. John 20:25
Thomas was seeing everything from earth’s viewpoint. Jesus knew the resurrection was going to follow His horrible death. He had told the disciples about His pending death and resurrection many times, but they couldn’t grasp it. So later Jesus appears to the group and singles Thomas out to invite him to place his hands on His scars and, “be not unbelieving, but believing,” (John 20:27). In other words, “Open your eyes, Thomas. You are missing reality!”
What has our Lord said to us that is so easy to doubt? Maybe His promise to cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God,” (Romans 8:28). Like Thomas, what we feared, happened. We can’t see any good that can come from this. Do I dare believe God can turn such a seemingly senseless tragedy into something wonderful for me and those I love?
Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God!” He believes! Jesus says, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Will we be counted among those who believe not just that He rose from the dead, but that He is God and is working everything out for our good. He did not say all things are good, but He has promised to work them together to benefit the lives of His beloved children.
What slight, what wrong are you stubbornly holding on to as proof you were right? What disappointment are you unable to release to embrace the good gift God longs to give you now even through this bad event? Jesus understands your struggle, the fear you will be disappointed again. He says to us, “Stop doubting and believe.”
On Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 7 PM Paula Neall Coleman will be speaking to women on her book, “Weight of Grace”. Her study centers around weight issues, but goes much deeper to our identity in Christ, recognizing and overcoming legalism, intimacy with God etc. If you plan to attend, please let us know by calling or emailing us.