When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 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.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
I’ve preached this gospel many times, always with a focus on having faith in God. The goal, the sermon usually went, is to overcome our doubt and believe in that which we cannot see, namely a risen Jesus. But now I’m inclined to believe this is a story about trusting in ourselves. Jesus is the one, after all, who says God’s Spirit has been placed in us. Yet what good is this Spirit if I spend my life fretting over the choices I make, seeking other people’s opinions for approval or direction?
How many times have I said to myself, “I wish I knew for certain this was the right choice.” I’ve spent many an hour, or week, or month, hemming and hawing over a decision because I doubted myself. Should I leave this job? Is this a healthy friendship? Should I risk this new creative endeavor? Of course there’s always an element of risk in the choices we make, but the really dangerous choice is to ignore the Spirit within us. The most important person we consult is ourselves.
In us is God’s Spirit, a deep well of wisdom and insight. All we need do is get still and listen. I think it’s telling Thomas gets the answer when he touches Jesus’ body. The answer, it would seem, lies in the body. And again, since Jesus places his Spirit in us, that means the answer lies in our bodies (more specifically, in those gut feelings that let us know exactly the direction we should go).
This is not to say we won’t make mistakes along the way. But then God’s Spirit is also one of infinite compassion. In those times we go left when we should have gone right, we offer ourselves compassion for having risked at all.
Is there a decision in your life which invites doubt and fear?
Have you taken time to listen to the still, small voice inside of you? If not, find a quiet, peaceful space to meditate (perhaps light a candle to create a welcoming space and have a journal handy when you are finished to record the feelings). When you think of going one way does it invite peace or discord?