“24 But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” 26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.” 28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”” JOHN 20:24-29 (HCSB)
Y’all. I have to be honest and tell you that I was SO convicted by the word of God this morning. If you didn’t know, I made a New Years Resolution to read through the entire Bible in 2018 and finally finally finally I have made it to the New Testament! As I’ve been reading the gospels over the last few weeks I’ve been overwhelmed with emotions, but today I was overwhelmed with conviction. As I read the words of Thomas in John chapter twenty, I immediately resented him for thinking the way that he did. He says in verse twenty-five, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” I mean, doesn’t that make you want to hate the guy? I mean how could you not believe that Jesus had risen after He told you He would? Did he really think that the other disciples would play that sick of a joke on him, to say that his savior, his friend, and his teacher was alive and not dead?
…and then it hit me. I’ve been Thomas. Many times. I’ve been slow to believe and quick to doubt. I don’t say this proudly, but at some moments I’ve been downright adamant that God was not real for lack of “seeing.”
I’m going to be really open here and tell you a little story from the beginnings of my faith.
I founded my faith in a church that believed in miracles. We believed in the Father and His power to heal the sick and hurting, not just emotionally, but also physically. We believed that was accomplished through prayer and the laying on of hands. I heard stories of people being physically healed and of other witnessing the healing. I so desperately wanted to be healed by God. I wasn’t even sick, but I knew I wanted to be healed by Him. Why? Because I thought, “if only I could be healed then I would never doubt God again.” Time continued to pass and I heard more stories of healing, my desire to experience it grew. My youth group was headed to a ‘night of revival’ at another church and I reluctantly decided to go because one week prior I had got gotten my wisdom teeth out and wasn’t quite back to normal.
I remember the worship seemed to last forever. We sang and sang and the Spirit of God was so thick in that room. I remember thinking, “I never want to leave this moment.” I felt like it was solely me and my Father standing there and I just got to worship in His presence. Some of y’all would have already left… I’m talkin’ we were at least eight or nine songs in at this point and everyone in the room seemed to be begging the worship team to just keep going despite the fact that a speaker had come from out of town to share a special message with us. I’ve never felt more unity in the body than that night, our hearts all desired to keep pressing into the worship, there was something there, something to be done.
Around the start of the tenth song, I suddenly tasted blood in my mouth. I mean (not to be too graphic), I felt blood gushing out of the wounds in my mouth. But oh man, I did not want to leave that room! Chains were about to be broken in my life and the lives of my friends and the enemy wanted me out of there, out of the presence of my Father. As soon as I tasted the blood, I immediately knew it was an attack on my body from the enemy. I suddenly remembered a sermon from a few weeks prior about the power that exists in the name of Jesus. I can’t explain the speed in which that thought came; I know it was from the Father because MY first thought would have been, ‘this is SO embarrassing, run to the bathroom now!’ So with my mouth opened as wide as I could (without blood dripping out) I whispered the name of JESUS-- I commanded the blood to stop in the name of Jesus and it left my mouth. The taste was gone. There was none left. I did not swallow it (yuck). It was like it was never there. It actually scared me half to death. Had I just had enough faith to command demons to flee? Yeah. I did. And He came like a rushing wind and healed me. We must have continued worshiping for another hour and I spent every minute in awe of who my Father is and His ability to heal me.
After the service ended, I stopped by the bathroom to look in my mouth. I knew the blood had stopped because I could no longer taste that awful iron-like taste, but I was sure that my teeth would be somehow stained by the blood since I hadn’t ate or drank anything since. It wasn’t there. There was no sign of any blood having ever been there. As luck would have it, I had my check-up appointment one or two days later and I half expected my doctor to say, “well, you burst the scabs so you have [the ever painful] dry-socket.” But she didn’t, she said that my wounds were nearly perfectly healed. Even she, with her special lights and tools could see no trace of the scabs ever bursting.
For the following few months, my faith was on FIRE. Afterall, I had just experienced physical healing-- the thing I had begged my Father to give me, the thing I swore would make me believe like I never had before and would keep me from doubting ever again.
But as you might of guessed, that’s not the end of the story. It’s been five years or so since that day and since, I have found myself in long seasons of doubt, unbelief that my Father could (or would) heal me of other things, and even questioning if I was ever healed in the first place or if I had just imagined it all. So trust me when I tell you, I was Thomas-- I was the one to say, “I have to see (or experience) to believe that healing is possible.” I was also Thomas when I experienced the healing and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” But, I have also been someone else, someone who has doubted once I had seen and had experienced.
I share all of this with you to say, truly, “Those who believe without seeing are blessed.” I know this in the depths of my soul. If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “if only I could see God then I would believe” or “if only I could get an answer to this question, then I would surrender my life to Him,” I want to save you some time and tell you that as I’ve found out, no number of clever questions or good gifts will make (or keep you) a believer. Nothing can replace a foundation built on seeking Him daily and letting Him reveal HIS love for you.
We all have our own word(s) that fill this blank: “If only _______, then I would believe!” But I’m here, as living, post-healing proof, that we are lying to ourselves when we make that statement. We use that line to justify our disbelief, our lack of faith.
I leave you with a few verses from Romans chapter 1:
“18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude.”
Friends, there truly is no excuse for us to continue in our disbelief of Him and His story. Our “if-then” statements are completely false because the evidence of Him exists all around us-- “His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, … have been clearly seen since the creation of the world,” yet we want more. We have our “proof,” now we just have to open our eyes and see it, learn to submit to it and have faith in it.
Today, I fully believe and know that I experienced physical healing that night, BUT the difference is, I no longer let the ‘proof’ I begged for be the foundation of my faith. The foundation of my faith is now in my relationship with Him and is being built on every single day as I am captivated by the revelation of WHO He is and not WHAT He can give me. Today, my faith and hope are in the GIVER and not the GIFT.