Through Our Fears
“I won’t believe this is true unless I can see the nail marks in his hands and I can put my hand in his side!” – John 20:25 (adapted)
Thomas set up an impossible condition for his belief.
Jesus wasn’t into people touching him without his consent. He was clear about his bodily autonomy. But Thomas said, “I will not believe, unless…”
I think this impossible condition—the least likely scenario, given how Jesus wasn’t into people touching him like that—was Thomas’ way of avoiding the pain of failure. Of being wrong. The idea of God not having followed through. That was just too much.
And what makes me think this? The text doesn’t spell this out. But I’m confident of this because our wiring hasn’t changed. We’ve been like this since the caves & the wooly mammoths. We live by our fears because we are wired to believe this is the best way to protect ourselves.
Thomas thought by setting up something so clearly impossible he could outmaneuver his fears. But that which is impossible in our imaginations is very much possible for God. Jesus showed up for Thomas in precisely the way Thomas needed in order to overcome his fears.
We talk so much about living in faith. As if it’s the opposite of fear.
But faith is a companion of fear. I think faith is God’s act of grace to overcome our fears—again and again—so that we can live more closely aligned with God’s promises and priorities.
Living as God intends us is very much in our best interests.
Then why do so many of us struggle to pull that off?
Because everything in here—in this brain of ours—tells us that change is terrifying. The familiar is to us is like a pig in slop. We just roll in it, even though we know it’s … well … let’s call it slop. And we’d rather roll in slop because it’s more familiar than be cleansed by the waters.
But you know what?
God knows how to meet us in our fears and carry us through them.
God, thank you for meeting me right here, right now. Let’s get through this, together.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.