Sympathy for Thomas
by Kim Conrey
I have decided that poor Thomas gets a bad rap. Why, you might ask? After all, he was there when Jesus walked on water, there during the feeding of the five thousand, even there when Lazarus simply walked from the tomb after being dead for four whole days! What right did Thomas have to doubt after being privy to such greatness? A moment of doubt, a slip of faith, and he is branded for all eternity, the scourge of believers everywhere. Hey, I won’t lie; that’s what I always thought too. I’ll admit, my ego has fed off of Thomas’ doubt a time or two.
Piously I have said to myself “Behold Lord, I am not like the heathen. You may now reward my unyielding faith.” Yes, rather laughable. I have now come to unveil this attitude for the bastion of arrogance that it is. Our lives are full of Thomas like behavior; as Christians we all complain, doubt, and worry—having a husband in Afghanistan for a year brought out every complaint, doubt, and fear imaginable. Deeper still is another layer of the Thomas syndrome that we all experience: fear of disappointment. The more we love, the more we have to lose. Could it be that Thomas loved with such depth that the idea of letting hope back in was simply too terrifying for him? Perhaps it was not that he had no faith, but because the wellspring of love in his heart was only equaled in depth by his capacity to be hurt when that love is taken from him.
Of all the depictions of the gospel that I have seen, I finally saw a movie version of this gospel that gave Thomas the redemption denied to him for so long. When Christ approaches Thomas to show him his wounds and prove he lives, Thomas takes one look at Christ’s wounds and quite simply falls all to pieces. When he started sobbing, I did too. At that moment, I understood: he loved with such depth that he was simply terrified to let hope back in, to open his heart to more pain, disappointment. The truth is, Thomas had a wound as well, raw and nowhere near healed. He wasn’t ready to rip the bandage off and start bleeding out once more. Have we not all been there?
In our own lives Christ will inevitably ask us to try again when we have spent months or years patching up our hearts: in a broken relationship, home, or a broken dream. Christ will show us his wounds and ask to us to cast out our nets once more. Like Thomas, we will refuse and declare the marriage, dream, or relationship to be dead. Christ will ask us to believe through our exhaustion, disbelief, and tears.
I am Thomas—heartbroken, tired, and afraid to let love in, faith in. After all, one more bad blow might just do me in for good. But, like Thomas, I will rise to meet my Lord because my heart, my faith, is deeper than my fear. It is who I am.
I am Thomas. Aren’t we all?
About the Author:
Kim Conrey is an Army wife in Marietta, Ga. Her work is published in Just Between Us and Oracle 20/20. She holds a degree in English and is still recovering from her husband’s year-long deployment to Afghanistan.