John 20:26-31 - Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe." Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."
Stop to think for a moment about what it must have been like for the disciples during the week after Easter. There they all were, still cooped up in a room in Jerusalem, with the doors locked for fear of arrest. Ten of them are euphoric—they've seen Jesus alive again! So have other people! God has done something wonderful!
And then there's the last guy—Thomas. He wasn't there when Jesus came the first Sunday. He can't believe Jesus is really alive again. He probably spends his time alternating between grief for Jesus, whom he thinks is still dead, and anger at the other disciples. Have they all lost their minds? Are they drunk? Are they conspiring together to pull his leg? How can they possibly believe something so far-fetched?
It must have been a long, long week.
Really, I find it encouraging that a week later, they were all still together to meet Jesus when He finally showed up. The ten believers didn't throw out Thomas for being a stubborn wet blanket. Thomas didn't poison the lot of them for being so annoyingly happy. Nobody separated themselves from the group, in spite of how difficult it must have been to put up with one another. And then Thomas finally did come to faith, and they could all rejoice together. (I hope nobody said, "I told you so.")
I have no idea why Jesus waited so long. He clearly knew Thomas was having trouble. And yet He waited eight days to deal with it. I have no idea why Jesus does the same thing today in so many cases, why He allows some of us to struggle and doubt and fear for so long, even in the middle of a bunch of happy, trusting, confident believers. Jesus clearly knows what's going on with us. But He doesn't show up—until the right time comes. We are left to endure, all the while crying out to Him.
But it comforts me that, even this early in the Christian church, there are those who struggle, and there are those who rejoice. They are able to live together and love one another, even though their experiences are so very different. The strong believers can put up with those of us who stumble and struggle and have difficulties with our faith. The struggling can continue to love and put up with those of us who are sometimes unthinkingly happy, and probably cause them pain without meaning to. That is the way the church should function—with love, patience, and mercy, regardless of where we are at in our lives with Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help those who are in fear or hurt or doubt, and help also the ones who are around them, so they can care for them and bear with them. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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