Better known as doubting Thomas, he's gone down in history with infamy, three years of following Jesus, walking covered in his dust so close behind, all erased by a moment of doubt. But I wonder if his sin is not the one we think it is. Doubting Thomas, cold, analytic, demanding proof, the scars and living skin to touch before he could believe. The ultimate skeptic.
But what if that was not his sin?
Three years. His Savior, friend, the man he'd left everything to follow, the man who gave meaning to his life, ripped away.
How often, when grieving, is cold rationality our first recourse? If we do run to rationality, isn't it a kind of refugee? Fleeing to unfeeling scientific sterility of emotion to numb pain, to hide from further hurt?
Because hope always, always, is a risk. To long for anything is to open oneself to disappointment--and the deeper and more desperate the hope the more horrific the hurt.
I doubt that Thomas was a doubter--that was not his sin. He was a man broken and terrified. Terrified to believe the joy in the other disciples' eyes. After believing Jesus was Messiah, son of God, God himself made man, and then the cross, what was Thomas to believe but that God was dead? And that left nothing but darkness, a world of chaos. Hope offered an escape from that prison camp world, but to hope only to have the door slammed again in his face, surely what would kill him.
I have a sin of fear. Maybe that was his sin.
But is it any wonder he smothered hope? The only thing left that could hurt him worse than he'd already been wounded?
Who are we to cast stones? What miracles do we miss because we will not open our hearts to the hurt that hope risks? We dream small, puny dreams, live small, puny lives because the bigger the dream the greater the risk and too often we are cowards. Hoping hurts. So we smother it to shield ourselves.
What was it Jesus said to Thomas when he'd touched his scars? Because you have seen me, you believe; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
Isn't that us? We have a chance to be those who have not seen, but believe. In a world that can still seem like a prison camp, we have a chance to hope for more, and in hoping, fight to create. It's not as much a matter of overcoming intellectual skepticism as emotional terror--fear we'll be hurt, fear we'll fight for nothing. We are cowards afraid to believe in redemption, but only by believing do we experience it.
We need to hold on hope, risk the hurt it taunts, and believe in the redemption that is in the hands of the scarred Savior we cannot see.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. -Ephesians 1:18-20