Today’s Gospel sees us encounter the doubts of the apostle Thomas. Even when faced with his friends telling him that Jesus had risen and appeared to them, he would not believe. He told them he would have to put his hands on the actual wounds on Jesus’s body before he would believe. We know how that story ended. Jesus appeared to Thomas and invited him to touch his wounds.
Thomas’s ensuing words of surrender, ‘My Lord and my God’ were not meant to signal that we were never ourselves to experience doubt. Indeed, in 2016, the website Crux reported that Pope Francis spoke during his general audience about doubt,
“We do not need to be afraid of questions and doubts because they are the beginning of a path of knowledge and going deeper; one who does not ask questions cannot progress either in knowledge or in faith.”
Doubt can be the doorway to a deeper faith, it seems. Today I imagined how a conversation might go with God on the topic of doubt….
God: Hello, my friend.
Me: It’s hard to say this. But sometimes I find it hard to believe in you.
God: I know. Tell me more.
Me: I have all sorts of doubts.
Me: Well, I see war and famine and death. And now this pandemic.
God: And that tells you I don’t exist?
Me: Well…. maybe… or don’t care…or…I don’t know.
God: What else?
Me: So many people don’t believe in you.
God: And that suggests I don’t exist?
Me: Well…people have all sorts of opinions about all sorts of things…I don’t know.
God: What else?
Me: I feel empty a lot of the time.
God: What is that like?
Me: It’s like I want to believe but in a world with so much suffering and a world that seems to tell me you don’t exist…it’s hard.
God: No-one said it would be easy to believe in me.
Me: I know.
God: In the midst of your doubt, what do you do?
Me: I don’t do much. I suppose I despair. I throw the towel in.
God: And then??
Me: I usually tell you about it.
God: And that’s the better way. Keep talking to me. I will hear you. I hear the good and the bad. I hear you in your doubt. And I love you in your doubt.
Me: Love me in my doubt… of you?
God: Yes, I love you. And I love those who are caught in wars and famines and illness. I long for them to be free and well. And I have the same love for those who would banish me from society; those who would claim I don’t exist. I long for them too. Because even when people don’t believe in me, I believe in them.
Me: I needed to hear that.
God: I know. Any time. Always.
It’s good to talk. It’s good to talk to God. And it’s good to bring our doubts to God. God can handle them and God can convert them.
**The painting at the top of this blog is Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Thomas**