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Sunday, May 01, 2005


Remember the story of - or at least the name - Doubting Thomas? One of The Twelve, a disciple who followed Christ some years ago.

Thomas happened to be elsewhere when Christ first appeared to a group of disciples after his (Christ's) resurrection. When Thomas returned, he found his previously downcast friends full of joy and excitement: Christ lives, they said. He was here, in this very room!

The bible reports Thomas' response, something along the lines of "I'll believe it when I see it with my own eyes." For this Thomas earned a name change, thereafter known as "Big D" Thomas. And it's not Dallas, or Divorced, or even disciple, is it.

I wonder though if he shouldn't be remembered not as Doubting, but as Devastated Thomas. His immediate reaction - his disbelief at the word of Christ's appearance - was an expression of doubt, a lack of faith, no question. But why? What caused his doubt? Was Thomas like, a precursor to the modern-day stereotypical Missourian (state motto: Show Me)? I wonder.

During their years together all the disciples developed incredibly deep spiritual and emotional bonds with Jesus; Thomas was no exception. Just a few days before this miraculous Appearance, their leader - their Messiah - went from popular to arrested to dead in a matter of hours. All those plans, dreams, goals? Gone. Crushed, dead, buried. And now the other disciples say He's back?

Think "emotional rollercoaster," for starters. Think of seeing your dearest friend killed, having your life's one true hope destroyed with his death. Now spend a few days in shock, while you try to avoid beign spotted by ever-present civil authorities intent on finding you. That grieving process? It'll have to wait, sorry, you're kind of busy right now trying to literally stay alive.

So you finally make it back to the safe house; you lost the zealots hunting you, but it wasn't easy. In you go, up the stairs, open the door, and - well. You thought you were in shock before this point.

What are you feeling as you opened the door? Doubt? Not likely. You feel empty: recently terrified, drained, exhausted. "Devastated" seems like a reasonable summary of your All-Negative Feelings Ensemble. Okay, so you enter the room and notice your friends don't look like you feel. They explain why, and - well. That was nothing; this is shock.

Seems like one of two things will hold sway in a believer's mind at this point: faith, or feelings. For Thomas, apparently it wasn't faith. Instead of accepting these eyewitness accounts, he stayed in self-protect mode. He said No! I will not "believe." This hurts too much. I cannot deny this pain inside; this pain is real. He was here, in this room? And I missed him. Why did he not stay? You don't know. When will he return? You don't know when, or even if. Fine. If he does come back and I see him, then I'll believe. Until then - no. He died, he's dead, it's over.

Did the others protest, try to convince Thomas? Unknown. I imagine Thomas mentally hunkering down, choosing his present, familiar pain over having his hopes renewed and (most likely) crushed again. Eight days later, Jesus returns. Thomas sees and believes, and endures a rebuke for not accepting the testimony of the other disciples (in a word, "doubting").

Does devastation "excuse" one's lack of faith? Answering this question is left as an exercise to the reader. But wait, there's more:

Was Thomas the first to need resurrection-faith? In other words, was he the first person asked to accept the resurrection without having seen Jesus with his own eyes? That's what's expected of us, you know. Bonus question(s): if it wasn't Thomas, who was the first? If it was Thomas, who was next?

In light of the relationship between redemption and faith, can anyone from Missouri (spiritually speaking) be saved?

In light of Christ's words to Thomas (John 20:29), can anyone from Missouri (again, spiritually speaking) be blessed?

Disclaimer: despite appearances to the contrary, the author means no disrespect to Missouri and/or Missourians, living or dead (don't say it) .

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