This is a guest post from Sarah Matar – a fourth-year dental student living in Birmingham, UK. In today's post, Sarah explains the role of doubt as a part of faith - not as something opposed - a valuable perspective for all who have ever struggled to believe. If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
Sometimes it’s easy to see our God only as someone who likes playing a game of hide and seek with the world. He hides, we seek; some find Him, others don’t. He hides in obscure places, that only those who are really determined can see Him. Otherwise, like a child, if you’ve been looking for long enough you eventually give up.
To a certain extent, this still remains true in my heart. God commanded us to seek Him, and promised those who do so with all their heart will find Him. But, unlike the child that remains still in a cupboard for 10 minutes hoping that the seeker won’t catch him- He longs for us. He tells us He is everywhere, within us and around us. He shows us He isn’t found or heard in noise and clutter, but in stillness and softness.
On the Sunday directly following the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, the Church reminds us of someone who gave up searching for His friend. St Thomas, rather than being known as the disciple who boldly shared the Good News across India and was later martyred for such, is usually referred to as “doubting Thomas.”
I too find myself sharing in his doubt. That whilst everyone else has a special bond and relationship with God and seems radically influenced by His life – I feel like I’m not there yet. Why am I missing what everyone else is seeing and experiencing? A God who lives in me and gives me boldness, fearlessness, hope and joy? Sounds too good to be true. Maybe for the first few days after Easter- but after that life goes back to its normal, ordinary routine.
“Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith” writes Paul Tillich.
Through this doubt, through this hardened unbelieving heart God revealed Himself as the seeker. God pursues and searches mankind, so much so that He will and has gone through many barriers and great lengths. God could have left St. Thomas, in his hopelessness and bitterness- yet He, the good Shepherd whose eyes aren’t fixed on the 99 righteous but the 1 who is far away, runs and searches for His invaluable child, His lost coin, His prized possession, the apple of His eye.
And it’s not just with Thomas. See if you can find the a common and theme here:
“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)
“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” (John 20:26)
This is Our God who breaks down barriers and softens our hearts and uses even our doubts and weaknesses for good. After rolling the large stone from the tomb, He doesn’t let shut doors inhibit Him. The doors were sealed for none to enter, the stone was fixed for no one to move. Our hearts may be hardened, we may have built so many barriers that we feel God isn’t near. The reality is, though, that doesn’t deter God to give up on us. He sees us, knows us and lifts up and moves what separates to bring us close to Him once more.
The image of the bridegroom and the Shulamite woman from the Song of Songs is another representation of this:
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows,Gazing through the lattice.My beloved spoke, and said to me:“Rise up, my love, my fair one,And come away.For lo, the winter is past,The rain is over and gone.
A gazelle, known for its incredible eyesight, is the image given to Our Lord Jesus. The fact that we have our walls doesn’t stop God from speaking or looking. He waits and peers outside the doors of our heart, declaring to us that the sin that has lead to a withering, cold winter season- our cold hearts- has passed and He has made all things new. Let us come away with Him and through the prayers of St Thomas, believe that He is a living God.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where can I flee from Your presence?If I ascend into heaven, You are there;If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.If I take the wings of the morning,And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,Even there Your hand shall lead me,And Your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139: 8-10