I sit in the silence, rocking in the wake of yet another child's puking episode, but it is too close to rise and shine, so how about I get in that quiet time I have been neglecting? I open my study book and Bible and get down to business, making connections, having epiphanies, and all before 6 am.
I am directed to look up yet another passage when I feel that familiar tug on my lazy nature. "Just skip it. You know that passage. Ok, maybe if you don't you'll at least figure out what it is from the context of the lesson." Reluctantly, I will my hands to escort the fragile pages left and find myself eye to text with the story of Doubting Thomas (poor man to have a label like that, like Rahab the Harlot). I say a quick prayer as I peruse the words, that the Lord would open my eyes to something that sticks- something beyond what I've read before. It sounds altruistic, but really I am just tired and I want to make sure this is "worth it." (Yuck, Lauren. Really? Yes, really. I can be selfish even when I'm reading the Word.)
But you know the Lord (or if you don't, you should). He delivers on His promises even when we are tired and whiny, and His Word definitely did not return void. It hit me hard, and I've been puzzling on it for a few days now.
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:26-29
"Eight days later?!" Wait, what? Did I know that? Surely I must have read that, maybe studied it even. But then why did I not see it before?" (Yet another case for rereading and praying while reading the Bible, no matter how many times you've seen it.)
Eight days later. A couple weeks ago my daughter asked what time period I would go back to if I could go for just one day. I would like to put this eight days in my top ten. It just has me asking these questions like,
- Jesus obviously knew what disciples would be present when He first arrived, so why did He come when Thomas was gone?
- Was it because of something with Thomas, or was He giving the disciples a chance to evangelize to one of their own? (Even us believers need some evangelism, no?)
- And if He knew Thomas wouldn't believe them, why didn't He just come back in an hour to show Him?
- Why did He let Thomas struggle in His unbelief when He could have just shown Him right then and there that He was back?
- Why didn't Thomas believe his friends? Were relationships damaged after the crucifixion? Was he just stubborn? Was He hurt that Jesus revealed Himself to the other ten, but seemed to leave Him out of it? (Ouch, that would hurt.)
- Was he afraid to face Jesus? After all, he had deserted Jesus too. Maybe he was afraid he had done something unforgivable. Jesus had spoken peace to the others. He had breathed on them, given them the Holy Spirit. Thomas had missed the crucial sending of the disciples and gift of forgiveness.
- Did Thomas try to make the others doubt what they had seen? Did he just have to be right?
I'm not sure of any of those answers really, but it did bring to mind some things I do know.
- We can evangelize til we're blue in the face, but if that person doesn't come face to face with who Jesus is and what He did, they won't believe. And half-pictures of Him are no good. He died AND rose!
- We can't make anyone believe, that's God's job, but that doesn't mean witnessing is a waste of time. Witnessing is a blessing from God. We have seen the Lord!
- It's not all about the outcome of our present circumstance. We want to skip the hard things, get to where things are good. So we rush it. We push our questions to the back burner and act like things are fine, because maybe if we act like it, that will make it happen. Jesus is okay with the struggles. He waited to show Himself, not because He didn't care or love Thomas. He knew exactly what Thomas needed, and delivered accordingly. God works within our struggles, and He loves us enough to wait until the time is right.
- Pride is always a snare. When our stubborn need to be right keeps us from celebrating the Risen Christ, we need to step back and be willing to conceive that maybe there is a better way beyond what our eyes have seen.
- You're mistakes don't have to define you. Failing once is not failing forever. Thomas had the opportunity to exercise true faith and he missed the boat. He wouldn't let that same mistake happen again. Years later he would have the opportunity to declare unbelief once again. Instead, he prayed to the Jesus he could no longer see and was run through with a spear. Sounds like a happy ending to me.
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