One of the challenges in reading or hearing or studying passages from scripture is trying to figure out where we fit in all of it. Sometimes the stories of our faith are difficult to connect to our lives today, two thousand years later. At times, sacred scripture can seem like words meant only for people who lived long ago. Our task, these two thousand years later, is to try to connect the dots between these sacred words written long ago and our day-to-day realities. It’s not always easy.
But sometimes it is. That’s why the story of Thomas, Didymus, the “doubting disciple” is so powerful and memorable. It is one of the few times when Jesus seems to be talking directly to us — plainly and without ambiguity. Our Lord refers to us in his conversation with his small group of disciples long ago — as he utters ten of the most famous words in all of Scripture in his reply to Thomas: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
There is no doubt who he is talking about. He’s talking about you and me and all the others who didn’t have the profound privilege of encountering the risen Jesus. We all had to take the word of someone else. That is, we had to believe in something even though we hadn’t seen it. For this, Jesus calls us blessed.
There almost always will be doubts. There certainly will always be a shortage of empirical evidence. That’s where faith comes in. And make no mistake about it: faith comes from God. The fact that we can believe at all is itself a gift from our loving God who wants nothing more than for us to draw close to him and dwell in him; and he in us. But faith requires embracing things that can’t be proved, accepting things we can’t fully understand, and believing things we cannot see.
In a certain sense, faith is about somehow being OK with the doubts, yet living as if we do. We continue to live confident of what has been handed down to us from those first believers. In other words, faith is about being honest about and accepting that we really don’t know while at the same time choosing to live as if we do — choosing to live life with a certain kind of confidence and trust, that we are on the path back to the God who made us and who died for us.
The difference-maker in all of this is the way we look at the world, the lens of faith by which we experience all of creation. We don’t believe in a God who is absent from the world, but rather one who is immersed in it. That means there is evidence of God and glimpses of his presence everywhere — in every creature and every rock, in every situation and circumstance, and most importantly in every single person. By the way, that also includes our enemies. And our journey of faith becomes a little easier each time we can discover and encounter our God as we go about our day-to-day lives.
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
We will probably never see the risen Jesus, in the tangible and intimate way his disciples did, short of our life with God in heaven. But that doesn’t mean we have to stumble through life without any evidence of his existence or presence. God is still in our midst. We just have to know where to look.