Soon after Jesus had resurrected, we find a beautiful passage found in John chapter 20 that is a wonderful example of how much God loves us and wants to encourage us. The friends and family of Christ were gathered together after his horrific crucifixion and were still grieving over his death when, all of a sudden, he appears in their midst!
Even though they remembered how he had promised to return, I'm sure they were still awestruck. Jesus stretches out his hands and reveals his wounds, and, of course, they are overjoyed to see him again. He spoke peace and breathed on them, and before he left, he filled them with the Holy Spirit.
Thomas was not there that night, and later, when he returned and was told that Jesus had visited them, he said that until he could see Jesus with his own eyes, he would not believe it. After eight days, the group came together again and, like last time, Jesus miraculously appeared, except this time Thomas was present. Christ looked at Thomas and told him to reach out and touch the scars, and he did. Jesus said, "Be not faithless, but believing," and Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God."
When we are discouraged and struggling to believe, we can know that God will always make the extra effort to prove how much he loves us and cares about us.
How many times have you needed the Lord to inject faith into your doubt? I call on him to help me every day. You see, Thomas was not the only person who had problems with doubting. Actually, he's a perfect example of you and me. God realizes how hard it is for us to believe, and even though Thomas could literally see him, we do not have that luxury. This is where faith comes in and the reality of understanding that just because we cannot see him physically does not mean he is not there.
In verse 29 we read, "Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." Faith is having the ultimate optimistic and positive attitude. Faith is choosing to believe when we are walking over bridges that cannot be seen. Faith is paying our tithes when we only have a small amount of money in our bank account. Faith is resting in peace and completely trusting that God's word cannot fail.
Yes, it's difficult to demonstrate confidence in the Lord when all we can see is discouragement and hopelessness, but let us remember when Jesus intervenes into your situation, miracles happen and nothing is ever the same. Everything and everyone in heaven and Earth are subject to his infinite power and authority.
So how can we have more faith? We can pray and ask God to give us more courage to believe.
Faith is not only a source of spiritual hope and strength, but Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that approaches God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
In Acts chapter 16, we read where Paul and Silas were being held in a dark and dreary prison, yet they began to worship the Lord. Why? Because joy is not confined to a geographic location, a mood or a feeling but is activated when the determination to trust God becomes stronger than the temptation to be afraid. We cannot live in faith and fear at the same time. If we will feed our faith, our fears will starve! These men made a choice to see reality with the eyes of their spirit instead of being led by their emotions.
Whatever trial we are going through today, we also have the opportunity to do the same thing. Our natural senses are connected with our mind, but spiritual faith declares that I will base my hope and trust in God no matter what happens because I know he always has my best interest in mind.
Humans have a tendency to rely on their intelligence and have confidence in their own decisions, but this cannot bring true spiritual peace. True peace comes from knowing that God is in control. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying, "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."
William F. Holland Jr. is a minister and chaplain in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Read more at billyhollandministries.com.