The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1603 By Caravaggio
I tend to view people and situations in life through a healthy lens of suspicion and skepticism. Or at least I thought it was healthy. What are you trying to sell me? What’s your pitch? Your hustle? Your angle? What strings are attached? The famous phrase “There is a sucker born every minute” attributed to P. T. Barnum would never be said of me, by Job! I am not sure when this all started, but this has pretty much been the predominant attitude of my adult life. I have prided myself on NOT being an early adopter. I want facts. As much info as possible. Empirical data and charts. I am slow to get on every bus. I want to know where that bus is going and how long it will take to get there. What should I bring with me? What is the opportunity cost of riding on that bus? Would it be better for me to just stay home?
This makes life fun with my early adopter of a husband, who owned one of the first TRS-80 computers back in the late 70s. My husband who, although we had zero money to buy actual food when we first got married, put down $1000 on a Segway in 2000 before they were even released to the public. My husband will happily plan a vacation for our entire family of 6 the day before we leave the house.
I just had a mini panic attack writing that last sentence. I just triggered myself.
As much as I have prided myself on wanting all the necessary facts and information before I make a good decision, I have realized that in doing so, I hold myself back from so many wonderful things – events and relationships, avenues and opportunities. And I miss out. All because I played it too safe.
There is someone in the Bible who does that too. Someone who I have, in the past, always related to and connected with, and even bragged about being like.
Thomas the Disciple was one who walked with Jesus. He knew Him personally. He followed Him closely, did life with Him, and listened to His teachings. So isn’t it a bit surprising that when Jesus returned, JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD, that Thomas was still skeptical? He knew Jesus. Did he not believe Him? Did he not trust Him? Obviously he did not, because even after Jesus revealed Himself to the other disciples, and they reported back to Thomas, he declared, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20:25)
Thomas needed facts. He needed proof. Empirical data. He needed to see with his own eyes. He put stipulations and requirements ahead of his faith. I can totally relate to that.
The cool thing about this story, and the very remarkable thing about our Savior, is that Jesus obliges! Instead of turning him away, or berating him for his lack of faith, He submits Himself as evidence for Thomas’ demand for proof. He allows Himself to be poked and prodded by a hardened skeptic. “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (v. 27)
He didn’t have to do this. But He is so merciful.
How long will I wait, holding out for proof? How much more evidence do I need before I finally trust Him? After Thomas declares his faith in the risen Lord, Jesus tells him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (v. 29)
The truth is, Thomas missed out on something. We don’t know exactly what it is, because Scripture doesn’t elaborate. But we can imagine that He missed out on some precious one on one time with Jesus after He made His brief return to earth. He was here for such a short time after His resurrection, and Thomas held himself back. He needed evidence before he would believe. Instead of trusting his friends, and then eagerly seeking out his savior, he waited until Jesus came to him and gave him the proof he demanded.
Thomas limited himself. Therefore, he was not as blessed as those who believed without seeing.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!
What are you holding out for? What evidence are you waiting for? Is God asking you to make a decision or take step that requires faith? That requires believing without first seeing? What chances are you unwilling to take, because the God has not given you sufficient proof to step out of the boat? Jesus said it is better for us, more blessed for us, if we do not first require the proof, but instead step out in faith without the proof. Because our faith is not in the proof but in the One who calls us out. When we hold back and wait for proof, we miss out on the opportunity to watch Him uphold us and bless the faith that was cast forth. We only see the evidence that our limited beliefs demand. In essence, we see what we want to see.
How much more could we see if we step out and trust in Him?