Friday, January 12, 2007
24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it. 26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Sometimes I doubt.
How this can be I don’t understand. How I can feel so entirely certain and then plunge into this darkness is a mystery. And yet, sometimes I doubt.
It most often comes at night when the house is quiet and still and I’m wrestling with my usual insomnia. Around 2:00 a.m. it strikes. I wake up, fully and completely awake. I toss and turn and flip my pillow. I squirm and stretch a few times. I take note of how loud the Mr. is exhaling and I make a list of things to be done tomorrow. I count the hours left if I fall asleep right NOW.
Then comes the thought, maybe it’s not real. Maybe God isn’t real. Maybe I’m a fool. Maybe I’ve dedicated my life and my philosophy to something like a fairytale.
Oh, it gets uglier. I start to think of eternity. It seems entirely too long to endure. No rest. Never done. It’s never just over. No way out.
And how dare I have had children? What was I thinking to have brought yet more human beings into this existence that I myself cannot comprehend? I think I should tell them, tell my boys, don’t do it! It’s too cruel! Don’t have children who will have to walk through an unkind world and then exist forever in an unknown future!
Existential angst to be sure.
Yes, sometimes I doubt.
Sometimes I am so sure I am surprised not to open my eyes to see Jesus sitting next to me. Sometimes I can feel him, I can feel him right here. He has mass and volume and places a gentle hand on mine. I am so sure that I ache to be gone, yes to be dead. Dead to this life and so very ready for the next! Sometimes I feel entirely untethered to this place by anything but gravity. A true stranger in a strange land. I think about how I might die and if it were “premature” how that would be so wonderful! I think that this world has nothing, nothing, nothing to offer me. I don’t care about a bigger house or mounting bills or a stressful job because it’s all so temporary.
The believing me thinks the doubter will never return. The doubter is ashamed and afraid.
Both the believer and the doubter are grateful that God can handle us.
When Thomas was overwhelmed with despair and doubt, Jesus didn’t turn away in disgust. He stretched out that hand that was pierced for all of us doubters and let Thomas find his way back to a place of faith in whatever way he needed. He let Thomas touch the holes.
Even though he had to see to believe, Thomas was allowed to say, “My Lord and my God!”
So I will toss and turn through the night wrestling against my doubts. With every morning there has been a nail-pierced hand stretched out for my examination.
And back into those hands, I place this doubter’s life.