Some of us have taken the message of Christianity and put it in a box marked, “Don’t ask—don’t tell.” Ever feel like you need permission to weep when you lose a loved one? Or feel intimidated about admitting, “I really don’t know for sure?”
In John 20:25, Jesus disciple Thomas confesses, “Unless I see… I will not believe.”
The story of doubting Thomas teaches us that it’s okay to admit our doubts and reservations. In fact, if you don’t, you won’t grow. You’ll wind up with somebody else’s answers, and in many cases they will be inadequate for your questions — even if you’re honest enough to ask them. If you go your whole life without breaking open that box of hard questions, you’ll end up facing the difficult times in life without the proper tools to deal with them.
Like many of us, Thomas felt unequipped when facing the difficult questions surrounding God’s redeeming power. Before his interaction with Jesus in the Gospel, he relied on the faith of others around him. And it’s hard to blame him for this when we consider he was in the company of Jesus’ disciples!
After hearing of the resurrection of Jesus, Thomas admitted he would be doubtful until he saw “in [Jesus’] hands the print of the nails.” The Bible tells us: “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:26-28).
It is important to note that Jesus did not chastise Thomas in front of the other disciples — who clearly did not need physical proof — for his doubts. Instead, He had grace with Thomas and ensured he got the proof he needed.
He understood that any question arising from an honest heart isn’t a skeptical question; it’s a search for truth. Ultimately, God relishes these moments when our doubts are cast away by His truths. Times of doubt can become classrooms of learning when they drive you to God for answers.
More than anything, God wants us to pursue Him and develop a deep, personal relationship with him, something that is only possible when we address our doubts without shame. We need our own personal experiences with the Lord, and our questions can lead us to a deeper relationship with Him. A personal inquisition of God’s truth will always produce a more meaningful and lasting revelation than hearing second-hand about these experiences in someone else’s life.
This means we ought to liberate ourselves from the shame of praying, “Lord, like Thomas, I still struggle with some doubts.” None of us have fully come to terms with the many broken pieces of our lives. Know that you are not alone in this. In fact, on this side of eternity, some pieces of the puzzle will remain a mystery. But it’s comforting to know that our Father accepts us in our doubts and hesitations and that he doesn’t ignore our questions.
The good news is, Thomas finally reached the place where he could say, “My Lord and my God.” And he will be patient with you as you strive to reach that place as well.
So how do we get through our doubts? Like Thomas. By facing them honestly, bringing them to Jesus, and walking out our faith in a more personal way along our journey through life.
Pastor Jentezen Franklin is the Senior Pastor of Free Chapel, a multi campus church. Each week his television program Kingdom Connection is broadcast on major networks all over the world. A New York Times best-selling author, Jentezen has written ten books including his most recent Acres of Diamonds, along with Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, Fasting, and Right People-Right Place-Right Plan.