Doubting Thomas…not his name, but that’s what he’s been called in the Christian Tradition. He was the one who asked to see Jesus after the Resurrection, ya know, just to make sure his friends weren’t lying. Of course, they were all like, “what’s wrong with you?? we said it’s Jesus!!” Thomas, however, decided he needed some visual proof. When he finally saw Jesus, he stood in awe, looking at the marks on his body, remembering he just watched this man die some days ago. I can only imagine the emotion he felt at the time. He went from disbelief, to awe, to a renewed faith. While this is really the only time we hear about Thomas in the Bible (all about Peter), I imagine this is not the first time he doubted. He went along for the ride with Jesus, but he probably expressed some skepticism early.
Being skeptical or doubtful is a bridge to faith. When I hear the phrase “Well, Pastor said…” I realize I’m dealing with someone who has not examined his or her faith. In fundamental religion, raising questions is frowned upon. Asking questions about faith is considered “sinful” and therefore not tolerated. One should just accept what is said…that is far from faith. Faith is developed and it is developed through doubt. We, as humans, have faith in many things: our car will start, the lights will turn on with the switch, the chair I sit in will hold me, I will have food to eat, etc. Yet, imagine if you grew up and one of those things was not the case for most of your life. It would be difficult to believe later in life that you will have food on the table or electricity in your house. Here enters doubt. Faith begins though the first time you experience a possibility for more. It could be spending time with a friend and you are exposed to the possibility that more exists and therefore you begin to hope.
Doubting Thomas must’ve had hope or he would’ve left Jesus behind. His hope appeared probably when he thought there was something different about this man. He stuck around to see if he was the man Jews had been waiting for, full of skepticism and doubt.
I’m sure many of our religious leaders and prophets experienced doubt at some period. It gave them an opportunity to examine their faith. I experienced doubt 7 years ago and I would be lying if I told you I have complete and total faith in everything. I pray and hope. I look to experience, religious teachings, reason, and my own spirit to navigate through my doubt. I have faith in God’s continued grace and that my life experience is not for vanity. I have a hope that the things I want to see manifest in my life will happen. My hope only becomes faith once I start to act on my belief.
If you have doubt, I wouldn’t worry. Blindly accepting something is much more harmful than examining what you believe.