Jabbok Dawn

Tumbling in the Sand

The Bravery of Doubt


The texts for Sunday, April 15, 2012: Acts 4:32–35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1—2:2; John 20:19–31.

“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.””- John 20:29

Poor Thomas.  Every year, this second Sunday of Easter, Thomas gets held up as this doubter, this person who should have had faith.  And many, many people have heard this little verse right here as Jesus’ rebuke of Thomas’ doubt.  And therefore, of our own doubt, too.

But maybe that’s not how to hear it.  Maybe that’s not what the author of John meant to say. Instead, maybe the author meant for it to be a blessing to those of us who haven’t seen the person of Jesus and yet still believe.  Maybe Jesus isn’t talking to Thomas at all here, but rather to us:  you are blessed because you believe at all.  You are blessed when you don’t see what God is up to and yet believe that God is up to something.  You are blessed when you believe that Jesus is present in your midst even when you don’t see Jesus.  You are blessed when you trust in the resurrection even when you don’t see signs of resurrection springing up around you.  You are blessed.

And of course you are going to doubt.  I can’t imagine faith without doubt.  There is the awesome quote I have stuck to my bulletin board in my office that reads: “Doubt is the shadow that faith casts.”  I think the idea that somehow doubt and faith are opposites isn’t biblical at all.  I think people made that up somewhere along the line as a means of controlling others, for keeping people from asking hard questions that, well, maybe they couldn’t answer or made them uncomfortable.  I think the Bible makes it clear that fear and faith are opposites.

Doubt is not fear.  Doubt is the bravery necessary to say: “I don’t know.”  Doubt is the strength to say, “This is bigger than what I understand and I can’t get it all.”  Doubt is the insanely faithful power to admit that we are not gods and that we don’t have it all figured out and that that might just well be okay.  And I think that faith in the holy God of Israel—the God who created the world, the God who somehow became human in Jesus—is going to lead us to doubt.  The deeper one’s faith in that God, the more overwhelmingly mysterious, the more frustratingly ungraspable, the more intense the shadow cast by the light of God surrounding us…and therefore, the greater the doubt.

So, blessed are you when despite not being able to grasp it all—when you can’t quite believe it or understand it—you dare to demand Jesus’ presence, you dare to reach to touch the wounds of the risen One, you insist on wondering and questioning and exploring the mystery of God surrounding you.

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This entry was posted on April 12, 2012 by in Sparks from the Lectionary and tagged , , , , , .

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