In an age where information is at our fingertips, why do so many people still struggle with their beliefs? Jesus once told a story about a farmer liberally sowing seeds over the ground, but only some of the seeds sprouted and survived while others failed to take. The seeds represent Jesus’ message of hope and truth. The rocky and weed-filled soil represented people who hear His words, but the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things choke the truth, leaving it unfruitful.
Anyone living in a city can relate to the constant tug of tension – the lure of so many distractions that fill our schedules, the pressure to chase wealth and success, and the worries that we must navigate life entirely on our strength. These challenges seem to undermine the good news of liberation and victory that Jesus brought.
Living in one of the most secular provinces in Canada, it’s essential to understand that secularism doesn’t equate to a society of unbelief. Instead, it’s a society where faith is constantly contested and questioned. We encounter people with different beliefs and perspectives in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and classrooms. Diversity in thought, belief, and faith is the norm in a secular age. Secularism also brings cross-pressures, with numerous rival stories about our purpose and existence. While it may seem like secularism offers rational, unbiased objectivity, the reality is that we all bring biases to our understanding of facts and truth. This unconscious bias, ingrained in our upbringing and education, often goes unrecognized, making secularism no better at providing objective truth.
Wrestling with Doubt
Deep conversations among friends of various faiths, such as Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, atheism, and Christianity, often reveal shared struggles and doubts. Doubt is not a sign of disbelief; it’s a sign of curiosity and questioning. Unlike disbelief, which outright rejects facts, doubt seeks understanding.
The story of Thomas, known as “Doubting Thomas,” is a powerful illustration of doubt’s place in our faith journeys. Rather than labeling those who doubt unfairly, we should offer empathy and sympathy, recognizing that doubt often arises from spiritual trauma.
The Wounded Disciple
Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples, is often labeled as “Doubting Thomas” because of his skepticism after the crucifixion. However, considering the trauma he and the other disciples experienced, his doubt is relatable.
Thomas was likely the disciple most profoundly affected by witnessing Jesus’s crucifixion. The trauma, shattered expectations, and physiological shock left deep wounds. It could be the reason he was absent from the gathering of disciples is that he was paralyzed with grief. His protective vow – “unless I see and touch the wounds, I will not believe” – was a coping mechanism, a way to protect himself from further pain.
In a dramatic turn of events, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, including Thomas, while they met behind locked doors. Thomas, honest about his doubt and need for evidence, received a gentle response from Jesus. “Reach out and touch me,” Jesus said. “See the punctures in my hands and place your hand on my side.”
In that profound moment, Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus met Thomas where he needed it most – with evidence and compassion. This encounter transformed Thomas from a doubter to a believer and a powerful advocate for the Christian faith.
Lessons from Thomas
Thomas’s story teaches us valuable lessons. It reminds us that spiritual trauma exists within the church, and we must address it with compassion. Trauma can lead to skepticism, and we need to recognize its impact. In our Christian walk, we should shift our definition of success from certainty to trust.
When we take vows, whether in marriage or faith, we do so without 100% certainty. Yet, we trust. Trust is a fundamental aspect of faith. Trusting that God is with us, even when doubt lingers, is part of our journey.
While evidence and personal encounters can strengthen our faith, we should also remember the countless answered prayers, improbable circumstances, and the shared conviction among believers worldwide as reassuring factors. We must continue studying God’s word, gather in the community, and prioritize self-care when navigating doubt.
Shift your perspective from doubt to trust. In your faith journey, weigh the stories of victory as greater than the question marks. Our God, who met Thomas in his doubt, is the same God who meets us in ours.
In a secular age filled with doubt and questions, Thomas’s story stands as a testament to the transformative power of faith. His journey from doubt to belief reminds us that doubt is not the opposite of faith; rather, it is a companion on the road to truth. We are all Thomas, wrestling with our doubts, but we can also find our way to belief through encounters with the living Christ.
As we navigate the challenges of sharing Jesus in a secular society, let us extend empathy to those who doubt, recognizing that spiritual trauma can leave lasting wounds. Through compassion and understanding, we can help others find faith amid their doubts and share in the transformative love of Jesus.
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