I Doubt That - 4/22/18

I DOUBT THAT! 04 22 2018
John 20: 24-29

Everyone goes through doubts in their faith from time to time. … Even Mother
Teresa had doubts. … She once wrote her spiritual director; … “Where I try to
raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very
thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it
brings nothing. I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and
coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”
Her spiritual director reassured her with the basic message; … “The fact that you
have doubts means that your faith is real.”
No doubts, … no testing; … and no testing, … no real faith.
Show me a faith that has never experienced doubt … and I’ll show you a day-old
faith, … or worse, … a pretend faith, … a fake faith.
At times, we may doubt whether God hears our prayers. … Sometimes we
question, when young children die … when an evil person seems to succeed in life,
… or we go through a difficult personal challenge.
Everyone has doubts … and they’re actually good for you … because they drive
you back to the risen Lord for answers.
Thomas gets a bad rap for his doubts. … He even earns a nickname: “Doubting
Thomas.” … Yet, Thomas was just as committed as the other ten disciples; …
perhaps even more so in some ways.
Just days or weeks before that first Palm Sunday, … Jesus told the disciples that
He had to go to Bethany, because His friend Lazarus was very sick.
Most of the disciples cautioned Him concerning this idea … because of all the
hatred being stirred up against Him in nearby Jerusalem.
Yet Thomas responded, in John 11:16: … “Let’s go so that we may die with Him.”
OK, … the guy’s a little pessimist … but we have to give him an “A” for bravery.
He was willing to stick his neck out and put his life on the line.
It was Thomas who responded a little later to Jesus’ assurances of Heaven. …
Jesus was telling His disciples, in John 14, … that he had to go away to prepare a
place for them. … Jesus told them they knew the way … but good old Thomas was
brave enough to ask the question on everyone’s mind: … “Lord; … we don’t know
where You’re going. How can we know the way?”
I’m glad Thomas asked … because this prompted Jesus to respond; … “I am the
way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:5-6; … this is great verse in our Bibles!

2

Yes, Thomas had his gutsy (if not fumbling) moments … but by the time Jesus
went to the cross, … Thomas, … along with every other disciple except John, …
had scattered to the four winds.
They were all cowering in fear … and self-preservation.
On that first Easter morning, the two Mary’s, … plus Peter and John encountered
the empty tomb … then Mary Magdalen faced the risen Lord.
Then, on Sunday night, ten of the disciples met Jesus face to face. … Christ spoke
right to their doubts as He showed them His hands and His side, … proving to
them it was really Him.
But where was Thomas?
We don’t know for sure … but can you imagine the shock he felt when the others
told him; … “We have seen the Lord!”?
Thomas is the original Missourian. … His reply; … “Show me!”
Let’s think about Thomas’ example as we, … like him, … go through our own
times of doubt. … How can we defeat our doubts?
Three ideas: …
1. Guard in our low times. … When we’re really down, … depressed, … “Just
stop the world and let me off” attitude, …don’t make any rash decisions.
For instance, … go out and buy a car, … decide to move, … quit your job, …
resolve to get married ... or better yet, … get divorced.
Give yourself some time to get through the low times before acting impulsively.
And so it is with doubts: … don’t give into them in the midst of your depression.
Just recognize them for what they are: … doubts. … OK, … you have doubts; …
I have doubts!
That just means we have faith. … Good job! … Your faith is more than your
doubts.
Thomas was certainly in a down time. … His Lord had been crucified. … His life
was in jeopardy … and his hopes were dashed.
Maybe that’s why he was gone, … just grieving by himself.
We don’t know for sure but fortunately, he did not do anything rash.
Eventually he returned to his friends, … his fellow disciples, … which reminds us
of another doubt defeater: …
Guard in your low times … and: ...
2. Draw strength from others. … It was when Thomas was away that his doubts
held power. … Isolation magnified those doubts.

3

He missed Jesus’ visit because he had left his fellow believers.
Separate a coal from the rest of the fire … and what happens? … It goes out.
We need each other.
When we feel least like going to Church, … that’s when we need to be in Church
the most. … When we most want to hide in our home, … that’s when we need to
force our self to get out and be with others.
Together, we are the Body of Christ … and when one hurts, … the whole body
hurts; … when one celebrates, … the whole body celebrates.
Where two or more are gathered, Jesus is in our midst.
If we look at the post-resurrection appearances, … Christ almost always appeared
to groups of people, not individuals: … The ten disciples … then the eleven; …
the two friends on the road to Emmaus (we talked of them last Sunday); …
later to 500; … the 120 gathered at Pentecost.
Jesus seemed to honor groups. … We need each other to fight off the doubts.
Thirdly, … to defeat those doubts, … we need to: ...
3. Meet the risen Lord. … That’s what did it for Thomas, who then fell on the
ground and proclaimed; … “My Lord and my God!”
Scripture indicates he didn’t need to touch Jesus’ scars. … For him, … seeing was
believing, … as it was for all those other eye witnesses.
One argument for the certainty of the resurrection is that these people talked about
it and wrote about it … and even died for their beliefs!
This time in history it was a very dangerous time to express one’s faith in Christ,
… with a hostile, distrusting Roman government … and a cunning and protective
Jewish religious elite. … All but one of the disciples would end up a martyr, …
proclaiming the risen Christ with their very last breath.
Lee Strobel was, by trade, … a lawyer and investigative journalist; … according to
him, … two of the most skeptical career fields around.
As a devout atheist, … he set out to disprove his fiancée’s Christian faith, i.e., the
evidence that Christ actually rose from the dead.
In his research, he ended up becoming a devout believer, … proclaiming; …
“It would take more faith for me to remain an atheist than to believe.”
He wrote a book which recently become a movie, … “The Case for Christ.”
In it, … he talks about how people no doubt will lie … but people will not give
their life for a lie, … yet each of these disciples went to their death proclaiming
Jesus has risen.

4

What about us?
Jesus speaks directly to us in verse 29 when He says; … “Because you have seen
Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
Isn’t that the essence of true faith, … to believe without seeing?
Someday we won’t need faith anymore … because we will behold Him … face to
face … but until then, … we put our hope in the risen Lord, … even when we
don’t have all the answers … and we trust that in the future, … He will reveal the
answers to us, … or possibly, … it just won’t matter anymore.
Meanwhile, … God gives us evidences of His existence every day.
We hear Him speak to our thoughts as we read scripture. … We see His beauty in
the creation … and His love through the kind hand of a friend or spouse.
We see His redemptive work as someone discovers hope, … meaning … and
peace.
We see His faithfulness day after day … as we know we do not walk this life
alone.
We are motivated by others following their faith. … We think of saints such as
Mother Teresa, who persisted even in the midst of her doubts … and consider
Thomas himself, … who tradition tells us would later help spread the gospel to
India, … where he would eventually give his life for his God.
So we resonate with the words of the Apostle Peter, … no doubt recalling this
particular event, when Thomas got to see his risen Lord. … Many years later, Peter
would write the young believers in 1 Peter 1:8-9: … “You love Him, though you
have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and
rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9  because you are receiving the goal of
your faith, the salvation of your souls”
Let us pray:
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Thomas, … a real guy who had real doubts and
wanted evidence over blind faith. … Jesus, … thank you that you met him right
where he was … and thank you that you will do the same for each of us.
Help us to take care when we are feeling down, … to surround ourselves with
loving believers … and to bring our doubts to you, … the risen Lord, …
knowing that you are more than sufficient in all ways.
AMEN