We have all heard the term ... "Seeing is believing!" But in these times of struggle and difficulty I have seen and heard much that I have not chosen to believe. Belief is important, and knowing the right things to believe can be crucial, even life and death. I was listening to a report today about a heartburn medication that is being studied as a therapy for COVID-19 patients. I expect that people, who are grasping for what to believe, will hear this report and clear the shelves of various treatments for heartburn, without knowing the science, without considering possible side effects and without sending the news report through any cogent mental process. Heartburn medication will go the way of toilet tissue, spray disinfectant, hand sanitizer and Clorox. I have wondered about people often over the past few months ... we can be shepherd-less sheep.
It seems at times of crisis we are willing to grab on to almost any glimmer of hope. But not Thomas! "Seeing is believing" said Jesus' doubting disciple. Read it for yourself. Thomas wasn't there when Jesus appeared to the disciples in a closed room, so Thomas said, "I won't believe unless I see the nail marks in His hands and feel the holes the nails made ... unless I put my hand where His side was pierced." We are all down with a run on Pepcid and Clorox but when it comes to Jesus, we want to see Him in the flesh ... like Thomas.
A few thoughts on this passage. First, Jesus reminds that the greatest blessing of true belief comes when we believe even when we do not see. All Job saw was turmoil, trouble and unfaithful "friends," but Job said he would put his trust in God and that he was sure of a living God in the midst of all he faced (Job 13, Job 19)! Really, our hope for revisiting our dead friends/family, our hope for true redemption of this world, our hope for true justice and our hope for final and eternal victory rests in a God who, so often, is beyond our vision. This is so evident that the writer of Hebrews (in Chapter 11) says "faith is hope in things unseen." In John 20, Jesus says that when we hope in these things, when we believe in a God we don't see clearly, we are blessed.
The second hopeful note from John 20 is that Jesus seems to go out of His way to seek out and find Thomas. Thomas wasn't there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. But Jesus cares about the individual. He expresses, in this little story, His desire to be personally known and believed by each of us. Jesus met Thomas where he was ... steeped in doubt and disarray. Maybe that is where you are today. Maybe the things you held as unshakable have been shaken. Maybe your friends are acting strange because of world events. Maybe government isn't the solace and guidance you need. Maybe jobs and finances are uncertain. Maybe you don't know what tomorrow brings. But the old song plays in your mind and gives you a warmth and certainty ... "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand." Blessed, indeed, are those who believe in a God they cannot see, for God is here and God is there "at the ending of the rainbow, where the mountains touch the sky." Randy