I suspect that we’ve all faced doubts and fears.
I’ve talked with many parents who are are concerned about their children’s future. I’ve journeyed with many people who are coming to the end of their lives; and I have learned that even faith-filled Christians have some serious questions and doubts (and even some fears) about what’s going to happen to them after they die. The Sacred Story that we find in the pages of the Bible reminds us that Jesus’ disciples were devastated after Jesus was killed, and that Jesus’ disciples were filled with joy and faith after He was raised from the dead. The Sacred Story is a story where doubt and faith collide; and, perhaps, that’s why the Bible continues to help us to make sense out of life, and to help us to understand how we can continue to live and flourish as people of faith in a challenging world.
In this week’s message, “When Doubt and Faith Collide”, we encounter the story of a man named Thomas (perhaps, better known to you as “Doubting Thomas”).
Thomas was a follower of Jesus, and he spent three years of his life in the “inner circle” of Jesus’ closest companions. Thomas was at the wedding feast when Jesus turned water into wine, and Thomas watched Jesus heal many lepers and people who were ill. Thomas had listened to Jesus tells stories. Thomas had watched Jesus embarrass people. Thomas had listened to Jesus talk about the fact that He was going to be killed, and he had heard Jesus talk about being raised from the dead. And Thomas, like all of the other followers of Jesus, was absolutely devastated when Jesus was killed and was sealed in a tomb.
But, Thomas wasn’t in the room with the other disciples when the Risen Christ appeared. Thomas didn’t believe the other disciples when they told him that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Can you almost hear Thomas saying: “Seeing is believing”? Can you hear Thomas say, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true”? Maybe you live your life believing those very same words? Maybe, we shouldn’t be so hard on Thomas?
But the Sacred Story reminds us that the disciples continued to love Thomas.
When we’re going through tough times, we all need people who aren’t afraid to stand beside us, and who aren’t afraid to let us express our deepest doubts and fears.
When we’re going through tough times, we all need people who are willing to meet us wherever we are in life, and who won’t try to “make things better” by offering shallow platitudes.
When we’re going through tough times, we all need folks who will continue to look for creative ways to love and support us in a world where even our closest friends are going to tell us, “If you need anything, give me a call!” – as they return to their normal routines.
I’ll never forget the day when one of my closest friends told me, “What I need most of all right now is someone to simply remind me that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ hasn’t been turned off.” Now, those are honest and authentic words, aren’t they?
The Sacred Story speaks about love and human embrace. It’s a story that reminds us that it’s “not good” for us to travel through life alone. And it’s a story that continues to remind us that the Risen Christ will always be found in places where God’s people reach-out to each other, embrace each other, shine light into each other’s lives, and honestly care and support each other. The Sacred Story reminds us that we need each other.
Doubts and fears are healed as people continue to live in “community” with each other, and as they listen to stories about the ways that God’s been acting in other people’s lives. And so, in it’s deepest sense, the Sacred Story reminds us, this week, of what it means to be the Church of the Risen Christ – a gathering where people love each other, encourage each other, build each other up, and stand beside each other through thick and thin – sharing the Sacred Story and speaking with each other about the ways that God’s been at work in their lives in a challenging world.