“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio is a painting depicting the disciple, affectionately called Doubting Thomas, putting his finger in to the side wound of Jesus.
Thomas was the guy that wouldn’t believe Jesus’ resurrection unless he saw with his own eyes and touched with his own hands Jesus himself. Thomas got what he wanted.
However, this brings to mind the issue of doubts and seeing the invisible or unseen. The question we could ask is: Do doubts have a place in our faith?
Antoine de Saint wrote in his book "The Little Prince," “Only with the heart can one see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Paul Tillich wrote, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.” Frederick Buechner wrote, “If you don’t have doubts you’re either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants-in-the-pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving.”
Sometimes we are so much like Thomas that Jesus has to come to us and say, “Put your hand here, trust me, I am who I say I am.” This story of Thomas teaches us that faith is very hands on and we need it to be that way.
One preacher described having faith as wading into flood waters. You move in slowly as the water is constantly moving you, almost pulling you in, and little by little, you feel around with your feet in the unseen territory below you. Step by step we get deeper in, but at the same time never forgetting the uneasiness of the invisible things that lurk beneath us.
Trust may be a better word for us than faith at times. We use the word faith, but it can be nebulous if we do not fully understand it. Trust however we get well. The word trust helps us to understand is that someone gains trust in you by showing yourself worthy of trust.
The natural question implied here is this: Is God trustworthy? We can talk about God’s creation of the universe, the preservation of his church, the reliability of the scriptures, and all of that is good.
But, people make decisions about who they’re going to trust based on a much more personal and experiential understanding. To personalize the question it would read, “Do I believe God is trustworthy?”
Trust or faith seem to me like reading a novel than reading a memo. One of the resounding statements you hear after people begin trusting God and find salvation, is that they look back on their lives and suddenly see the history of how God not only led them to Jesus, but also how God preserved them before they met Jesus.
Last month while on vacation, I heard the director of a faith-based drug rehab program tell me his story. The director shared of how he was running from God, doing drugs, drinking and sleeping around.
One night he was out with his girlfriend and while intoxicated he drove his car into the Gulf of Mexico. The car was sinking, he could not get the doors open, his girlfriend went into shock and at that moment he cried out to God to forgive them for their sins as they knew death was imminent.
Suddenly, he heard someone on the top of the car and then his door opened and a man pulled him and his girlfriend out of the car. As they were climbing up the rocks to the shoreline he turned around to thank the man for saving his life. However, there was no one there.
Scott Bowman is the pastor of New Harvest Assembly of God. He can be reached at email@example.com.