“Don’t be a Doubting Thomas!” I remember as a kid hearing that from many sermons. “Thomas was the least of the disciples because his faith was so weak. Jesus even called him out, saying, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ (John 20:29).”
I always hated this interpretation, perhaps because I identified with Thomas more than any other disciple. I wasn’t a zealot. I didn’t have a problem with denial. I didn’t fight and I didn’t rip off my friends. The one thing I struggled with more than anything else made me just like Thomas: I doubted.
The strange thing is, nobody talks about Thomas after he doubted. It’s funny how the book of Acts is also called the Acts of the Apostles since Thomas is intriguingly left out. What happened to him? Where did Thomas go when he vanished from the story of the apostles?
It turns out, Thomas traveled. He began preaching in ancient Babylon (present-day Iraq), then Persia (present-day Iran), and finally ended up in India. It’s believe that Thomas was killed by the stab of a spear in his side. A bit of an irony given Jesus’ command that Thomas touch the wound in his side.
Whenever we think of David, most notably we think of him as a king, or his battle against Goliath, or his debauchery-turned-murderer-turned-husband relationship with Bathsheba. Rarely do we think of David as a doubter.
Psalm 13 may well be the most heart breaking of them all. Hiding in a cave, exhausted from running, broken in spirit, he cries out, “How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” In this desperate moment, knowing he’s the promised king and yet fleeing for his life, he doubts God.
We the reader know that David becomes king so we often skip over his doubt. Even in the great psalmist, we skip over the verses that question God and strive for those verses that trust him.
Why is it we discount the stories of doubt? Thomas’s brought about the most intimate of invitations; David’s brought him closer to God. Yet we often treat our own doubt as though it should be ignored, never considered, and—God forbid—spoken aloud.
What areas of your faith do you doubt? Is it a particular theology? Do you doubt God could love you? Do you doubt God exists at all?