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Very often we tend to view Thomas, who is referred to as the “Doubting Thomas” as not one of the best disciples. This is because of his response to the disciples who informed him that they saw Jesus after his resurrection which is seen here: John 20:25, “So 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.” How many times have you and I doubted? I know I have. Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Unbelief is the opposite of faith and doubt is not unbelief.
Thomas did not evidence disbelief in Jesus. Far from it. He was committed to Jesus. When he hears that Jesus was planning on going to go to a place where he would likely be killed, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). This is far from a person who did not believe in Jesus. He was a believer and a follower of Christ. He did not doubt that Jesus was for real. What he was doubtful about was whether Jesus actually rose from the dead. What he wanted was proof of his resurrection. If you are in the academia, and present your hypothesis to your professor in your thesis or dissertation, she/he will expect you to prove or to test your hypothesis.
Thomas was no different. He’s not satisfied with second-hand reports and wants to see for himself. We must allow Thomas the space to ask questions. I want to be clear with regard to this issue, I am not referring to doubt with regard to our prayers when we ask God for something then doubt Him. Doubt about the person you are are praying to and doubt about whether God will answer your prayer are two different issues. When Thomas doubted Jesus’s resurrection, I believe he was not doubting his faith in Jesus but was asking the relevant questions in order to believe. We too ask questions sometimes, questions like the following: “Lord, will you ever heal my child? Lord, will I get that job that I have been waiting on for over a year? Lord, why is it Christian’s are being persecuted? Like, Thomas, we believe in Jesus but we questions life’s difficult experiences in the light of God’s intervention. John invites us to be part of this story because
Thomas’ story is our story as well as we try to understand how God’s goodness tallies with some of our experiences.
In Thomas’ case God does show up and answers his questions. You and I too, will see how God will show up in life’s challenging experiences, maybe not in the way we want Him to, but he always shows up. Asking questions will not make you any less of a follower of Christ.