So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” John 20:25-27 (NRSV)
As many of us do, I live with a heart like Thomas, asking “show me.” What specifically am I asking for? In the Bible, there are many stories where the proof is shown. Am I asking to see the wounds of Christ? Am I seeking a burning bush, a rainbow or to be swallowed by a whale until I have an understanding? Maybe really I am just asking for some clarity. How important is it that I believe in God and Satan or burning bushes and rainbow promises. It doesn’t seem likely that we will ever have the privilege of the certainty that Thomas received. So, what can we be sure of?
Perhaps more important than certainty is being able to recognize love and hate and to know that good and evil do exist. We may never see a burning bush, hear the audible voice of God, or be swallowed by a whale. But we can recognize the power of love, the peace that comes after a storm, and the push of our conscience to follow our gut. Sometimes the stories in scripture frustrate me because the literal interpretation makes them implausible. The intended message, however, is not.
When I see the sadness in the world, I think “There can’t be a God,” and the despair I feel brings me back to the story of Thomas. The disciples gathered in a house after his death. They were full of the desperation they must have felt for the loss of Jesus and the leadership they had come to rely on. Jesus entered and in the act of love and understanding showed Thomas his wounds and offered comfort.
The absence of God leaves despair, and the presence of God brings peace. That is clear enough for me. God is Love. Jesus shows us what love looks like. By our loving each other and bringing comfort and peace and we remove doubt and despair.