John 11:16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Thomas was always known for having a rather dark view of things. He is a bit discouraged by Jesus’ desire to go to Bethany to visit Mary and Martha. Lazarus is already dead and he only sees death as a possible future for Jesus. He imagines the Jewish leaders lying in wait, ready to kill Jesus. At this point he assumes that if they go with Jesus, they will all face death as well. He has no idea that Jesus will be bringing death to life, and so he moves forward in despair. Instead of the hope and life that will be revealed through Jesus he feels like giving up and resigns himself to death.
It’s easy to be critical of Thomas. His nickname became “doubting” Thomas, so it seems that his character is being revealed on a regular basis. He has a hard time imagining anything good coming out of his circumstances.
The circumstances of life come crushing in on all of us. Despair grips us when we can’t see what lies ahead. Thomas had no idea that Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Instead he assumed the very worst and gave in to the feelings of hopelessness. His faith was small and already he was doubting what Jesus might be able to do.
When we feel like giving up we are succumbing to the temptation to despair and joining Thomas in the bleachers as a spectator in the kingdom. Thomas didn’t stay on the sidelines but eventually got into the middle of everything. The transformational moment came when his doubt was turned to belief as he touched Jesus’ side. When empowered by the Holy Spirit Thomas went on to minister to many hostile regions of the world, no longer giving in to his fears.
When we feel like giving up we may need to spend some time refocusing on Jesus. Jesus never gave up on Thomas and allowed him to speak his words of doubt and despair and yet gently nudged him along in his spiritual journey.
We can be honest with our Lord about our times of frustration and despair, but we must never give up. Keep moving in the direction of knowing Christ and in the process of being discipled follow in the flow of the Spirit’s moving. Too much in life is outside of our control and can lead us to despair. However, knowing the resurrected Lord who gives life is worth more than anything that can happen to us here on this earth. Don’t give up, but believe in Jesus, the giver of life.
Lord, thank you for the honesty of Thomas and the hope that you provide. Amen.
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