Sadness, loneliness, depression. The pandemic has stressed us out for two years. We’ve been like the disciples after Jesus’ death: Huddled behind locked doors; devastated by loss; fearful of death.
Easter first arrived when things were bleak. But the disciples discovered and we’re beginning to discover that there is a way out of hell. Jesus Christ is risen today. And that changes everything.
Thomas’ is known for doubt, but his real issue was trauma. Thomas was traumatized. He was incapable of hope — let alone belief. Thomas was emotionally drained and spiritually dead.
That’s why Jesus went to Thomas to resurrect him. That’s what Jesus is doing for all 7 billion of us, the shell-shocked survivors of Covid-19. As Jesus said to Thomas, Jesus says to us: “You’ve been through hell. Me, too. I know what it’s like to die, and I know what it’s like to rise. Come; let me resurrect you.”
We can help. Everyone is exhausted. So, let’s be gentle with each other — and ourselves. Many are grieving. We can befriend them. So many have lost so much. We can bless them. We can join with Jesus to help them rise. God has given us gifts so we can join in that healing, resurrecting work. Your compassion, kindness, and love can make a world of difference.
Thomas certainly did. After his crisis of faith, he took a journey of faith to India. The church in India traces its roots back 2,000 years to the arrival of Thomas, who shared the gospel and who probably said, “Don’t worry if you have doubts. I did. Jesus helped me, and he will help you. There is no darkness that Christ cannot transform with his Easter light.”
Do you have doubts? Welcome to the club. Doubt is part of the journey of faith. Don’t give up just because you cannot intellectually understand something. Ask God to help you. God surely will. Questions are okay. Doubts, trials, losses, tears come to us all. Difficulty doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. When God seems farthest away is actually when God is closest and most deeply at work to love you back into life.
For millennia God’s people have history’s horrors and their life challenges by saying: This crucified Jewish carpenter — he knows pain. He is with me in sorrow. He took all of our death into his life to share his Resurrection with us; to transform our Good Fridays into his Easter life, which is yours not just when you die, but today.
How can you cooperate with that grace? Besides Jesus coming to you, you can go to him. If you have lost your faith, Christ has told us exactly where we can unfailingly find him: In Matthew 25, Jesus says: Wanna meet me? Here’s where I am: Soup kitchens, clothing pantries, county jails, public hospitals. Wherever there is suffering, Jesus is there. Here. When we share ourselves to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit inmates, tend the sick, we will encounter Christ. What we share with them, we share with him — and he shares himself with us, which, by definition, leads to Resurrection. Which mostly is not dramatic like in the movies, but ordinary: Arriving incrementally, sometimes imperceptibly, but surely — building within us to make us whole.
Christ has promised that where two or more are gathered, I am there. Despite boring sermons or whatever else is tedious or difficult about Christian worship, Jesus promises he is there. As Scripture is opened; when bread is broken and wine is poured: I am there. Here. For you.
If you go where Jesus goes and do what Jesus does, you will meet him, and you will discover that faith is not so much a matter of believing as it is a way of living. If you want stronger belief in Jesus, then strengthen your walk with Jesus. Do that; offer your doubts to God; ask for faith; and God will unfailingly take care of you. Like Thomas, you shall heal. Like Jesus, you shall rise.