Having faith and believing without the evidence is probably the hardest challenge we receive in life. It is never easy to just trust that something has happened, especially if we have not experienced it ourselves. Growing up with two older brothers has taught me not to believe everything I am told. As they frequently would say to me as a child, “Amanda, you are too gullible”.
I was always a very trusting child, especially when it came to my older brothers and closest friends. I believed everything they told me as being truth and fact. You could probably imagine the type of fun they had at my expense. One summer, when I was a little girl my brothers told me all about the monsters that lived in the woods out back. They told me how the monsters liked to eat little girls at dusk. They told me of all the other little girls in the area who stayed outside by themselves too late and what had happened to them. I remember sitting there listening to every word they were saying. I remember the growing fear creating knots in the pit of my stomach.
I remembered what happened next and the lesson I learned in those moments. They told me this at about lunch time one summer day and then at what must have been between 8:00 and 8:30 in the evening, I looked around me and I was suddenly alone outside. My older brothers were no where to be found.
Naturally, I panicked believing that I was now doomed. I was certain that the wild dog like creature that ate little girls was going to tear me apart limb by limb. Did I mention that I had a very vivid imagination? My brothers didn’t even need to describe what this monster looked like. I created it for myself. So, I ran up the wooden steps of the deck to the backdoor slipping and falling several times along the way. When I got to the sliding back door there was my one of my older brothers locking the door. I was stuck. I screamed “Hey, let me in!” Then I changed ideas. I ran instead to the back cellar door. Again through the window I could see my other older brother locking the door. And so this went until all the doors in the house were locked and I was trapped outside to face my growing hysteria and fear.
Finally, I just plopped myself down in the grass and began to cry. I just knew in my heart that I was doomed. I didn’t know what else to do. My parents hearing the crying unlocked the door and let me in the house and asked what I was doing outside all by myself. So I explained to them what my brothers had done and that I was crying because I feared the monsters in the woods.
My parents laughed a little and said that my brothers had put one over on me. It wasn’t nice but I shouldn’t believe everything I hear. People are not always truthful with us. They also explained that there are no such monsters in the woods that eat little girls. I learned a very valuable lesson that day. Not everything told to me is fact and that my brothers were not to always be trusted.
Most people have some sort of story in their lives about how they came to learn about the dishonesty of humanity. We all come to this conclusion. We learn from very young ages that we shouldn’t believe everything we hear. This is exactly what we see in the account of Thomas. Here he goes from being known as Thomas the Twin to Thomas the doubter. From then on whenever anyone seems to be struggling with their faith, people use his name and moment of doubt as reference by saying “don’t be doubting Thomases”.
Thomas gets the short end of the stick just for doing what we are all taught to do as young children. He questioned the validity of what he was being told. Imagine if you will, you are a follower of Christ, you’ve followed him to Jerusalem. You celebrate the holidays with him and then you go for a walk in a nearby Garden. You watch as he prays and you watch as this peaceful man is taken into custody. You witness his trials; you witness his death. Now you sit in fear that others will recognize you and put you to death in the very same manner. But then your friends tell you that Jesus has risen from the grave and that he appeared to everyone but you. Anyone would be a little skeptical and perhaps want to have that same experience.
The type of traumatic experiences Thomas had, would have convinced anyone that Jesus was in fact dead. No one could survive the wounds and the manner of death he witnessed. But here are his friends, who if they are anything like my friends and perhaps yours, laugh and joke around all the time, and they are telling him that Christ has risen and they have seen him. All of them seem to be in on this yet he is expected to be the only one to listen and believe. I am not entirely sure I would do any different than Thomas did. I probably would have looked at my friends and said, “That’s a sick joke. What do you take me for a fool? I am not that gullible.” How many of you would act the same way in his shoes? It’s alright, we are human and Christ expects us to do this otherwise there would be no need for us to hear these particular scriptural passages.
Christ is giving us a message. He is telling us to think twice about our very human inclinations to mistrust what seems to be a tall tale and to believe that through God anything is possible. Jesus is not just speaking to Thomas when he says, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe … Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Jesus is in fact reaching beyond the pages of the text to all of us, all of his future followers and reminding us that faith in God requires us to recapture some of that willingness to just have faith and believe. He is reminding us that faith isn’t about seeing, touching and experiencing first hand. It is about more. We are being asked to believe the words on these pages. We are being asked to trust in the resurrection and the hope extended to each of us because of it. We are being asked to hear and believe. When we are children and we have that innocent faith, we believe that anything is possible and just the act of believing in something brings it to life in our hearts. Just the act of believing that Christ has been raised will bring him to life once more in our hearts healing us, leading us, and bringing us home to God. So our challenge is to come to terms with our inner doubt, and to seek Christ anyway, to know in our hearts that he walks our journeys with us offering us hope for tomorrow. We need to share that hope with others who find themselves in their moments of doubt and trust that we will receive that same support and hope when we find ourselves in a time of need.
 John 20: 27-29. NRSV.
(Based on John 20: 19-31)