Friday, November 20, 2009

Faith and Doubt

There's a moment in Scripture where the disciples are hiding in a locked room after Jesus has been crucified. They're terrified of what the Jews will do if they're found to be followers of an executed rebel. Suddenly Jesus shows up, revealing Himself to his closest friends and followers. He offers words of comfort and sends them out, just as the Father had sent Him.

Except for Thomas. He's not there. He doesn't see Jesus.

When Thomas comes back, his friends tell him that the leader they'd been following, the man they'd been mourning, that He has risen from the dead. Thomas responds like it's a bad joke told too soon after a tragedy. He makes a startling challenge--he won't believe unless he can put his fingers in the wounds of the risen Jesus.

Small detail: it takes a week for Jesus to reveal Himself to Thomas. Which leads me to this question: why did Jesus wait a week?

Long before Thomas, there was a man named Jacob who was struggling with the promises God had made to him. He was about to be confronted by the brother he betrayed; he appeared to be facing imminent death. There's a bizarre moment where Jacob wrestles a man for an entire night near a stream. Many theologians--myself included--believe that this man was an Old Testament appearance of Jesus, the Son of God. Now, Jesus clearly could have squashed Jacob in a wrestling match. He's God, after all. But he doesn't. They don't wrestle for a few minutes, or even hours. They wrestle all night.

Why did Jesus wait all night? Why did Jesus wait a week? Why does Jesus wait even now when I doubt and struggle and forget His promises?

Both men doubted the promises of God. Both men were made to wait. They had to wrestle in frustration with the apparent reality before them and the promised reality they couldn't see yet. When Jesus ultimately confronts both of their doubt, it is done with a firm gentleness, the perfect paradox of grace and truth.

Jesus still does this, because authentic doubt can ultimately lead to a more authentic faith. He doesn't answer the questions right away, but He also doesn't abandon us to our uncertainty. He wrestles with us, gives us time, and offers gentle reminders of the truth--that we can trust Him, that He is faithful, that He'll come and allow us to put our fingers in his hands and side so that we can stop doubting and believe.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is very interesting.I'm waiting for your new post.
    Have a nice day.