There is a line in one of my otherwise favorite hymns that I am not able to honestly sing exactly as the hymn writer wrote it. It goes, “If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out…”
Thankfully (and mercifully), I have been rescued by another line. This one was spoken by our Lord himself, and it was spoken to the most famous doubter in the New Testament whose very name has come to be a synonym for doubters —Thomas. This line turned out to be the last beatitude, and it was not spoken in the “sermon on the mount”, but to Thomas himself where the disciples had barricaded themselves after the crucifixion. Jesus has appeared alive to several of the men and women disciples, but Thomas wasn’t buying their story and had said so in no uncertain terms! “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 it.”
Then in spite of the locked doors, Jesus showed up. Not only Thomas, but also the others were there as well, but after greeting them with “Peace!”, Jesus turned his focus to Thomas. Thomas must have hoped that what he had said hadn’t gotten back to Jesus. He probably expected condemnation. But Jesus instead held out his hands to Thomas, reaching all the way to the core of Thomas’s doubts: “Put your finger here; see my hands,” he said. “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting, and believe.”
Thomas did believe. “My Lord and my God!” he said as he embraced the evidence with his heart. But that wasn’t the end of this episode. Jesus then threw a lifeline to me and to all of us who can’t stop our minds from asking questions.
“Because you have seen me, you have believed,” Jesus said to Thomas and the others in the room.” (Now comes the last beatitude.) “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Those outstretched hands tell me that whatever it takes, Jesus will lead us to the place where we can honestly trade in our questions and doubts for faith — even if we never see until He comes again when we can trade all doubt for certainty.
Meanwhile, we are not condemned for our questions; neither is God intimidated by them. He created the minds with which we are questioning, and I’m convinced we can’t come up with any questions He hasn’t heard before.
I have a feeling that those who never have big questions may not have very deep faith, and sometimes the bigger the price we pay for our faith, the stronger that faith is to withstand the hard times that inevitably will come to test our faith into the next rung of spiritual maturity.
I still love the old hymn, but I sing the more honest words these days: “If I trust Him through my doubts, He will surely bring me out.” Now I’m working on the next phrase: “Take your burdens to the Lord, (I can do that) “and leave them there.” (Now, that is not so easy!)