Christ is risen! Alleluia!
But of course we don’t all come to that joyful certainty at once, or at the same time. This Sunday we will hear the story of Thomas, who wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. He didn’t believe their report until he saw for himself. To this day he’s known as “doubting Thomas,” and somehow we learn that we should never doubt.
But faith and doubt are not opposed. An honest faith is one that asks questions, and that means that it faces doubts. If we never doubt, we cannot grow in faith.
Martin Smith, an Episcopal priest and retreat leader, has written movingly about doubt. He says that the doubter inside of us “may be a kind of very austere prophet within us whom the Spirit of truth uses to make us face the extent of God’s own hiddenness and silence.” He suggests that part of the problem in our churches today is that “we become so naively habituated to Christianity that we are unable to imagine the world and life seen from the standpoint of the unbeliever. So it may be an urgent matter for the Spirit to get us to attend to the doubters within ourselves. That way we might learn to be with unbelievers where they are, and live with the question to which they do not yet see the answers in what we preach.” Doubt keeps us honest, and connected.
The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is fear.
If you feel you’ve met the risen Christ in this Easter season, you’re blessed. If you haven’t, if you’re more like Thomas, you’re doubly blessed. Thomas was rewarded for his perseverance. He became a great apostle. There are no shortcuts to faith. Faith struggled for, faith claimed through honest doubt and questioning, is the only faith worth having.
May you be blessed in the struggle to encounter the living Christ, today and always.