Doubting Thomases abound among God’s people. In fact, if we’re honest, we all play his part many times over in our walk of faith. Yet, some among us are given the spiritual gift of faith, or supernatural insight, discernment and so on. Some in the church are given dreams and visions, and others are, like Paul, called to be an apostle to this or that city. Most of us just take one small step of faith at a time, coming to know God by reading Scripture and saying our prayers, with no divine epiphanies, thunderclaps, or angelic encounters along the way.
It’s a real good thing God designed us to live in a community where others’ faith can carry us when we’re plagued by doubts and fear. Where we can ride the coattails of our brothers and sisters who have been given a double-portion of faith. We carry each others’ burdens, and move forward together in the mission God has called us to. On our own, we don’t stand a chance.
At MainStreet, we are definitely walking by faith and not by sight, and believing in the God who calls things into being that do not yet exist (Rom. 4). We’re constantly swapping roles and riding out the storms of doubt. Some of us play the part of Thomas, voicing fears and doubts, and demanding concrete proof that God is still at work among us. (“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”) Others play the role of Elisha, the man of God, in the story below. This is one of my favorites, and a timely message for those who currently have lost faith in the vision or mission.
14 Then [the enemy forces] sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17)
In this story, the servant of Elisha can only see things from a natural, physical viewpoint. Seeing (and touching) is believing. And what he sees is that they are out numbered, doomed, destined for defeat. Yet, Elisha has “spiritual eyes” and insight into the unseen realm where God is orchestrating a plan of His own. So, the prayer of Elisha for this Doubting Thomas is simply, “Open his eyes, Lord, so he can see” — see the bigger picture, the spiritual realities beyond our merely physical circumstances.
God answers his prayer, and this scared servant suddenly gets a peak into the the divine realm of God — and sees an army of soldiers fighting for their side and ensuring them victory. “He looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” What a game-changer for this Thomas!
Whatever you’re up against in your life, always remember that there is a reality beyond what we can see and touch. We must always factor in the spiritual reality, and not forget that God moves in many mysterious, unseen ways — well, unseen with merely physical sight. If you’re Thomas right now, ask God to bring an Elisha into your life’s circumstances to help you see the bigger picture.
The beauty of the Doubting Thomas story, is that he never left the group — even on days he didn’t believe anymore. Because he stuck with the other 11, his faith was eventually strengthened.
What would you give to have your eyes momentarily opened to see what God is up to in the midst of our seemingly hopeless situation?
At MainStreet and in Mound, God has given me numerous glimpses into the more extensive, subtle and unseen activity of the Holy Spirit. Currently, I feel called to “stand in the gap” for those who are having their doubts about our mission and call, and intercede on their behalf, asking God, “Open their eyes, Lord, that they may see.” But I have had many days where I doubted, and many more are coming. So, we keep asking God to surround our team with people of great faith, prayer and spiritual insight.
So, friends, may you keep walking by faith, not by sight!
Faith is, after all, having “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Or, faith is the ability to see with spiritual glasses what is we do not see on our own.