It’s perfectly understandable: Thomas is having trouble believing that Jesus has returned to be with his friends again. The disciples, who witnessed Jesus’ arrest, torture, death and burial, are now talking about having seen Jesus in the flesh again. It sounds impossible. Thomas was not there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples, so of course he is doubtful.
Thomas’ moment of doubt earned him the nickname ‘Doubting Thomas, and I sometimes think this is a little unfair. Or rather, I feel that Thomas’ wobble of faith does not necessarily cast him in a negative light – it makes him easier to relate to. He is grieving after the death of his master and friend. He is not ready to hear the words of comfort and consolation offered by the others, when they tell him ‘We have seen the Lord.’ His pain is too deep. He can’t believe it, or won’t believe it, until he experiences it for himself. And when he does finally encounter Jesus, an agonising eight days later, his declaration of faith is swift: ‘My Lord and my God!’ We can almost hear the relief and joy in this exclamation.
We all know that life can be painful and messy at times. It can be hard to hang onto our faith when we are in pain, or grieving, or anxious. It might be difficult to accept the assurances of others that God is with us and will help us through it. We might also struggle to pray. In dark times, sometimes we just can’t see the light. Thomas is a saint for those times of darkness and doubt. In our darkest days, may we, like Thomas, encounter the healing presence of the Risen Christ.