The Disciples: we’ve heard their names, we know there are 12, and we could even name a few of them from memory. They were a rare breed, dropping their fishing nets, etc. and following a radically different rabbi. We can assume they each lived with a bit of wild abandon during Jesus’ two years of ministry. We also know that each disciple, at some point, struggled to understand, believe, and be faithful to Jesus’ words. Yes, we know their names, but there was one among them that has been branded by his disbelief: Doubting Thomas (John 20:24-29).
There is not much else written specifically about Thomas, except that he doubted the Resurrection and was scolded for it – by the Resurrected Christ himself! Not only did Thomas doubt, but he shared his disbelief with the other disciples and demanded proof.
Doubt – it creeps in slowly, for Thomas it only took a few days, but for many of us it takes hold over years of disappointments. Often, we don’t even recognize our doubt; we prefer to say that we’re being ‘realistic’. Sadly, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we don’t have the faith to believe that something can happen by God’s power, it likely won’t, but NOT because God can’t!
Even more sad is how we pass our doubts on to our children. I still vaguely remember a conversation I had with my daughter two years ago. She was praying big that night. Without ever doubting, she prayed for something along the lines of healing a terminally ill person and finished by asking God for a Dreamlight (a type of stuffed animal nightlight). As she finished, my mama heart ached with my own doubts and I didn’t want my precious one to be disappointed in God. The words bolted from my doubting heart and rushed off my tongue, words that continue to shame and convict me, words that warn me not to encourage my children to doubt; “If God doesn’t…don’t be disappointed; we shouldn’t treat God like a genie.” As soon as I said it, the Holy Spirit convicted me, reminding me of how wrong I was. In my mind, she was praying too big (healing a dying person) and too little (a Dreamlight). You see, if she had asked her dad for a Dreamlight, I never would have accused her of treating him like a genie. That’s all she was doing – having a conversation with her Heavenly Daddy, and letting Him know what she desired. I know He delighted in her sharing, and even though she continued to pray for it every night until she received one on Christmas Day (several months later), doubting His ability to give her one, never crossed her mind. As for the healing – she knew she was praying for something big, but she also knew she was praying to a BIG, or should I say BIGGER, God.
I immediately wished I had kept my doubt to myself, but I hadn’t. That little one deserved to have never heard those harsh words, but she did. She also heard and graciously accepted the apology of this mama along with a reminder that God can certainly do anything He wants – and she reminded me she ‘already knows that’.
I believe this instance may have been on Jesus’ heart when he said, in Luke 18:16, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Children are quick to believe in a BIG God, their faith is BIG. The faith of a child should serve as a continuous conviction and challenge to us disappointed, doubt-filled adults. So, as we approach Resurrection Sunday I ask you to reflect on the Cross and ask yourself what kind of legacy you are passing on to your children: one of faith, or of doubt?