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” (John 20:24–25, esv).
When it comes to doubt, God wired us all differently. Some simply see and believe; others are always questioning, always asking—like Thomas. He wasn’t afraid to voice his perspective or even question Jesus (John 11:16, 14:5). And when all the disciples huddled in fear together behind locked doors, ironically, “Thomas . . . was not with them when Jesus came.” Wherever he was, Thomas thought something was more important than his faith. Missing out on an awesome personal seminar with the resurrected Christ, he set himself up for doubt.
Sincere doubt is very different than unbelief; it is an unsettled state of opinion regarding the certainty of something. Doubt is not I won’t believe; rather, it is I’m on the fence . . . I want to get onboard, but I have questions. Believing would require information I don’t have and conclusions I can’t see.
“Faith grows in God’s house.”
Doubt itself is not a problem—the Lord will go a long way in revealing Himself to a sincere skeptic. From the flaming questions of Job to the stubborn “show me” of Thomas, the Bible willingly deals with doubters, and so should we. But the problems arise when a doubter isn’t actually pursuing answers.
Had Thomas gathered with the others in the upper room, he would have experienced Jesus’ surprise appearance firsthand. His doubts would have vanished and his faith would have soared. Instead, Thomas reinforced his doubt by not being where faith is built—and his lagging faith was evident. “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” (v. 25). Eight days later, when Thomas was again with the disciples, Jesus removed all doubt with another revelation. “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’ ” (v. 27).
Doubt is dispelled by a growing faith. But complaining about a lack of faith when you’re not in the places where faith is built is like complaining about the darkness in your basement, under a blanket, with the lights off.
If that sounds familiar, you need to stop looking at faith as something that, for some mysterious reason, you just don’t have—and start seeing it as something you can actively pursue with God’s help. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word, is stirred through God’s people, and grows in God’s house. While Jesus isn’t going to appear the way He did to Thomas, He promises to bless those who believe even though they have not seen.
If you want your faith to be stronger, if you want to trust God when it’s hard, if you want to stand in any trial and have victory over sin—there are no shortcuts. Be intentional about pursuing the Lord in the places where faith is built. Forsaking that pursuit will only lead you deeper into doubt.
Heavenly Father, sometimes I can relate to Thomas’ questioning spirit more than I want to admit. Seeing the record of his doubts today, even after walking with Jesus on earth and seeing Him resurrected, is pure grace to my soul. Thank You for Your merciful tenderness in spite of my doubts. When I am faithless, You are still faithful. I love You and rest in this truth through Your beloved Son Jesus, who is Faithful and True, amen.