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).
The resurrection of Jesus was the best possible news the disciples could have received, yet not everyone was immediately on board with the story. Thomas was absent when the Lord made His group appearance on that Sunday evening, and he gave a skeptic’s response to the announcement that the other disciples had been with the risen Lord. He demanded proof: “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.”
Sometimes we judge Thomas’s reaction too harshly. We might think, What a demanding, disrespectful disciple. Who does he think he is? Actually, though his words may strike us as odd, they were sincere, not prideful. Thomas wanted to believe, and he wanted his faith to be authentic.
John 20:20 holds an important detail in Jesus’ original appearance: “When [Jesus] had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” Thomas was only asking for what he had missed. He was expressing a willingness to believe based upon the same evidence given to his peers. His request was not unreasonable. He didn’t want to doubt; he wanted to believe!
Thomas sincerely longed for what the other disciples had experienced. He was gathering the wood and getting a match—he wanted a faith on fire. Thomas named the obstacle and looked for the reasons he too could have authentic faith in Christ. And in this lies a lesson for us: faith is kindled when you name the obstacle.
If you’re struggling with doubt, identify the obstacle to faith in your life:
Now bring it before the Lord: “God, this is the barrier between You and me.” Produce your strong reservations, and give God an opportunity to kindle faith where there’s doubt. Once you have honestly prayed this way, give God time to answer. Wait on Him.
This is not a casual challenge. If you’re a doubter, get on your knees every night, and bring your barrier before God. Pray with the expectation that He will answer. Ask faithfully, every day for thirty days. God did not disappoint Thomas, and He will not disappoint a sincere seeker. Tell God the obstacle, and He will kindle your faith.
Lord, thank You that I don’t have to ignore my questions, little or big, and no obstacle can stump You. Thank You that I don’t have to pretend I don’t have doubts and that I can sincerely tell You what’s bothering me. I don’t want any obstacles to come between You and me. Rather than letting doubts undermine my faith, would You please use them to strengthen my faith? Like Thomas, I sincerely want to believe. Thank You for Your offer, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3). I call to You and ask You to kindle in me fresh faith, on fire for You. In the name of Your resurrected Son, Jesus, amen.