Recently, we invited a new couple to our small group. We had dinner together with the other couples as a means to get to know each other better and see if this was something they wanted to be a part of. As we sat there and talked, the husband talked about how hard life was. He talked about how his faith in God was shrinking and he wondered if God was going to come through for him. Honestly, my heart broke as I listened to him describe how he was feeling. It broke because not long ago, I found myself questioning my faith in God. I completely understood how he was feeling and my heart literally hurt as he shared. It was almost as if I were reliving the pain myself. I don’t know if you have ever experienced that. Perhaps my ability to relate was due to the fact that my hurt was from just a few months earlier. I’m not sure, but what I do know is that in that very moment, I honestly felt his pain.
Today, I was thinking about the fact that God comes through when we are at our wits end. There are times when we are at the end of our rope not knowing if we are going to fall or if God will save the day. There are times when our doubts are all we have and that is when God seems to answer our deepest requests. Why is that?? I wonder if God wants our complete and utter attention. I wonder if God had blessed my family the way I wanted Him to in the beginning, would I have felt the same compassion on my friends as they described their struggles? I wonder if I really would have understood my friends’ brokenness had I not experienced it myself. I wonder if in God’s timing He makes us wait because He wants to make good and sure He has our undivided attention. You see, when I was at the end struggling to hang on to a faith I write about several times a week, my attention was on God. It wasn’t on all of the stuff that takes my attention away from Him. It was completely and entirely on Him. All day, every day I pleaded and watched. I begged and bargained for God to come through because if we don’t have faith, we have nothing. If we don’t believe then we might as well hang up our halos.
This is what I read today in the gospel of John:
“The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ but he (Thomas) said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.'” (John 20:25)
Thomas was looking for proof of Jesus. He wanted to touch Him because the only way Thomas knew Jesus was when Jesus literally walked with him on this earth. He had never had to have faith in the unseen because he had always had the physical Jesus right before him. I can’t really blame him for not taking everyone’s word for it. He had walked with Jesus and seen His power but had not experience Jesus after His human death. Later in the passage, Jesus returns to show Himself to Thomas and says “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29) I think it’s interesting that Jesus returned to show Himself to Thomas. He didn’t let him continue in his doubts. He showed Thomas what He had shown each of His disciples. He even allowed Thomas to touch His wounds so he would really believe.
This really spoke to me this morning because I think the harder the trial we go through, the deeper our faith in God. You know, that night when I was listening to my friends talk about their struggle; I understood in the depths of my heart what they were talking about. I completely and whole heartedly understood the doubts they described. But just like me, and just like Thomas, Jesus was going to show Himself to them in His own way and in His own time. God came through for my friends as we trusted He would. But the delivery was different. You see, we all go through the same struggles and each of our breaking points is different. But God knows what we can endure. He knows how far He can take us. He knows what will stretch our faith. When the answer comes through, it’s at just the right time. It’s at the point where we are so grateful, we will not soon forget.
God blesses us daily. Each and every minute of every day God is blessing us with good things. But during the times we struggle, our lives are in faithful prayer. This is when we truly appreciate the blessings of God. I believe we are more thankful when we are desperately seeking God and His provision in our lives. I believe our faith is a little stronger after a trial. I believe that in and through the trials of life we ask to see Jesus and He appears to show us that He is for real. I believe, just like Thomas, He shows Himself to us when we need Him most because seeing is believing.