St. Thomas the apostle is the world’s most famous doubter. After the resurrection, his ten friends were abuzz with excitement about Jesus’ resurrection, but Thomas didn’t buy it. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
We all know the rest of the story, and even atheists know what a Doubting Thomas means.
But here’s a point to that story that everyone misses. Thomas wasn’t condemned by Jesus for his doubts. Jesus offered his hands and his sides and told Thomas to satisfy himself that Christ had in fact risen. This story in John’s Gospel is normally used to encourage those of us who have not seen Jesus to have faith, so we often skip right over the point that poor Thomas, while not the best example of faith, was still accepted in Jesus’ family.
Doubt played a very special role in my own faith. I was raised in a Catholic family. Due to whatever combination of parenting and my own mental processing, I always equated doubting with sinning. Most of my religious education consisted of half-listening to what I was told in Catechism, and not bothering to ask questions, even when I (often) didn’t understand what was being taught.
Fast forward 40-some years. A couple years ago, I was listening to an audio CD on Catholicism, and wondering about certain aspects of the church that I didn’t understand. Finally, in a moment of frustration, I said to the Lord, “God, I want to learn more about you, but I am afraid that I may learn you don’t exist!”
Do you know what the sound of God laughing is like? I learned at that moment. God laughed, softly, gently, and said to me, “Oh, my child. I have been with mankind since before its beginning. Aristotle, Augustine, Chesterton, and millions more have studied me. I think I can handle your doubts. Bring your questions to me and have faith. I will still be here when you find your answers.”
And he has been. Seek and you shall find.