By Paul Gilbert
If you've ever experienced crushed dreams or a broken heart, the disciple Thomas can relate to you. If you've ever labored under bitter disappointment because God didn't "come through" for you, Thomas knows where you're coming from.
He had attached all his hopes and dreams to Jesus. Thomas was with Jesus for three years, saw Jesus perform astounding signs and wonders, and was ready to dedicate every moment of his life to following after the one he thought was the Messiah. Thomas was all in on Jesus.
And then Jesus was crucified.
For Thomas, it seemed like the entire house of cards came down in that moment. All his hopes and dreams died when Jesus died. He had pushed all his poker chips to the middle of the table and lost on the final card. He was shattered to the point that when the disciples told him that Jesus had risen from the dead, he said in return, "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.”
This was not a cry of defiant doubt. It was the cry of a broken heart. Of a man whose hope and dreams were executed along with Jesus.
Can you relate? Maybe your children aren't following the Lord and you feel such despair over it. Or maybe your spouse doesn't fulfill you the way you dreamed they would. And so you're tempted to doubt God and his word. Maybe you're even tempted to reject parts of God's word because of your doubts.
But Thomas didn't reckon on a God who could resurrect the dead. He didn't understand that God was even bigger than his doubts and even bigger than death itself. That even though things appeared hopeless, things were not at all as they seemed.
Jesus was indeed alive, and with him all of Thomas' hopes. It turns out that the resurrection changes everything. Because Christ is risen from the dead, we can have hope even in the darkest of situations.
And because Jesus is gracious and merciful and loving even to those who doubt, he said to Thomas, "See my pierced side and hands." He wanted Thomas to know that he was bigger than his doubts.
See, God isn't afraid of your doubts. They don't surprise him or shock him or appall him. God knows that suffering, in particular, challenges and stretches your faith in God. But he doesn't want you to stay in a place of doubt. Rather, like Jesus did for Thomas, he invites you to behold your risen Savior and to freshly believe the promises of God. Even in the midst of your doubts and struggles, call out to God, "I believe, help my unbelief."
God won't reject that prayer. He'll meet you right where you are and give you the grace to cry out with Thomas, "My Lord and my God."