Grace for Our Doubts, Interview at Today’s Christian Woman
Here’s a little snippet of that interview. I’d love for you to head over there and take a moment to read it.
In your book, you write,
Of all the followers of Jesus who encounter the resurrected Christ, it’s Thomas’s response that makes the most sense to me. . . . The difference between Thomas and me is that I would have done my best to tidy up that disbelief. I would have been a lot more polite about it.
I like Thomas for his bravery, for his willingness to demand something from his friend Jesus. And I love Jesus for giving him exactly what he needed.
Why do you relate so much to “doubting” Thomas?
So many of the sermons about Thomas that I heard as a young person had the same basic message: Thomas didn’t please Jesus, so don’t be like Thomas. Look at all the rest of the disciples who believed—but Thomas missed out on so much because of his skepticism.
I’m not really sure when it occurred to me, but I remember later reading the story of Thomas as an adult and realizing that the Holy Spirit was giving me a beautiful gift. I’d spent my whole life thinking that Thomas really screwed things up, but all of a sudden in adulthood I realized,This is for me. This is something Jesus wants me to realize, to see, and to know. This act of questioning didn’t end things for Thomas. This wasn’t a scenario in which Thomas walked away sad and he didn’t continue to follow Christ. No, this was a moment where Christ met him—it was a moment when exactly what Thomas needed, Christ offered to him.
I started to see this as an act of faith on Thomas’s part. He was willing to say, “I won’t believe unless I see this.” And Jesus met him there—he knew what he needed to see, and let him touch his wounds.
I remember seeing Caravaggio’s painting for the first time and I was so moved by it. The thing that moves me the most is the grotesqueness of Thomas’s finger stuck right into Jesus’ side. It captures the compassion that Jesus shows to us; he doesn’t deny us because we need more, but it’s as if he says, Of course you need more! It can be difficult to follow a God that sometimes feels close and sometimes seems far, that sometimes makes sense and sometimes is incredibly mysterious.
We can go into our own questions and believe that, just like with Thomas, Jesus wants to offer us his side. God wants us to believe, but we’re not alone in trying to believe. God is helping us believe. That is the gift of the Thomas story for me: belief isn’t simply all up to Thomas—Christ has loads of grace for him.