Easter has always been my favorite church season; the music, the story, the feelings of hope, the joy of spring, the story we hear and what it means for the Christian community. The last two weeks I have been lucky enough to hear two amazing sermons. On Easter Sunday my Mom preached about courage. The bravery that the disciples had to show over the course of the “three days” not to think they were going completely insane when all of the sudden their friend Jesus shows up in a locked house with holes in his hands and feet just days after they buried him and on top of all that, the courage to tell people about it! Well, today Pastor Seyward preached about doubt. The doubt of Thomas and how he basically called his friends crazy when they told him Jesus was resurrected, “nope,” he said! He didn’t buy it until he could see it himself, put his hands in the wounds and hear Jesus’ voice, saying “believe it, Thomas… it’s me.” Pastor Seyward continued to talk about how Thomas has a pretty bad reputation now, he’s known as the “doubter”, the “non-believer”. In fact, go google “doubt”, the fourth choice (behind “Doubt”, the movie) is Doubt Thomas, poor guy. Well, as I sat there listening to the wonderful message today I started to connect the two sermons; the courage and the doubt of the disciples, the courage and the doubt that it takes just to get through life. In the words of my very wise Pastor Mom, “courage is not for heroes, courage is for disciples.”
I’d say, in this story we can all relate to Thomas. Who hasn’t faced an extreme amount of doubt in their lives? From small issues to big issues, that little pang in your stomach that tells you, “eh, you may want to think about this.” Everything from whether or not you should take that job across country, go back to school, break up with someone, eat that extra scoop of ice cream, fill up your tank before or after work, or if you should believe the fact that your mentor and friend apparently rose from the dead. Cleary Thomas had it a little worse than the rest of us. But, what Thomas showed us, what we can all take away, is that doubt is ok. Doubt doesn’t make us weak or indecisive, it makes us human. The next lesson is that of courage. This is where we can win or lose the battle. After doubt we must show courage, if we do not than the doubt wins and consumes us. Thomas had doubt, this is true, but he found his strength in seeing Jesus, and then he showed courage by continuing to follow him. The key is that middle piece, the strength. We all have to find what gives us strength. It is the natural step from doubt to courage. Sometimes we find that strength in our faith, sometimes in the words of our friends, or in a sign of some kind. We all have our own versions of putting our hands in the wounds.
Life is full of doubt, as is faith. And it takes strength and courage to get through it. What we can’t do is to let doubt exhaust us, because if we let doubt tire us then we have no more strength for courage. So, let’s not judge Thomas for doubting, let’s admire him for finding the strength to believe.