For All Doubting Thomases

10:50 AMHeather

On Sunday, my husband and I were in Houston to celebrate a family birthday.  We had taken a friend by her childhood home, which had been leveled and replaced with a large, modern house.  She had been excited to see where she grew up, and it was sad to see that her memories were all she had left.  My husband, the eternal optimist, asked Susan if any of the trees were the same?  Another friend in the car laughed about how he was looking for the bright side.  And, once again, it hit me how differently I think from my man.  

Where he sees the good and hopes for the best, I tend to borrow trouble and prepare for the worst.  He is full of optimism and hope.  I admit it here-- I am a doubter.  I tend to need to see to believe.  I find comfort in the fact that even some great stories in the Bible, full of heroes and victory, include some fellow doubters.  I'm afraid if I'd been one of Jesus' 12 disciples, I'd be the Thomas in the bunch.

Gideon and I have much in common, I have discovered, from reading in Judges 6.  The entire chapter is fascinating and too much to include here--but I really encourage you to dig in on your own.  Especially if you need to find some good company for your doubting ways.  We see as the chapter opens that the Israelites have once again disobeyed God's instruction, and thus end up in the hands of cruel Midianite rulers.  Because these oppressors tend to steal from their captives, Gideon is secretly threshing his wheat in a wine press, hoping to avoid any public attention.  It is there that an angel appears to Gideon to bring him some big news.

I don't know about you--but the appearance of an angel is big news in and of itself.  And, while Gideon is polite, starting his responses with "pardon me sir...", we see the doubt in him when those responses are then followed by the word "but."  He did not respond in awe and trembling to this angelic encounter.  Oh, yes, I believe I might just be like him.  An angel appears as I am hiding from my enemies, and while I am polite, I am full of "but ifs" and "but hows."  Gideon and I might have been good friends.  

What about you?  Do you see yourself here at all?  Are you feeling oppressed by circumstances, wanting really to just hide from it all?  Do you read the Words of the Lord--just like the angel spoke them, and find yourself saying, "pardon me, sir.  But, God, how could this help me?"   I read a blog just yesterday from a friend who is wrestling himself with some pretty big doubts.

Seems there are a lot of us.  If the weight of your illness or crisis or emotions is nearly toppling you with doubts, then please read on.  Because you might just find some encouragement here today--at least that is my prayer.  

Let me just show you how this conversation and encounter with the Lord and his angel went for poor Gideon. The best way I can think to illustrate this is sorta like a script--and please don't be offended by my paraphasing included here.  Please soak it in and insert yourself in the story..

Gideon is threshing his wheat in secret, hiding from his circumstances.

Angel appears.


Angel:  The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!


(pardon me for interrupting here--but mighty warrior?  all I see is a scared man threshing some wheat)


Gideon:  Pardon me, sir...but oh yeah?  IF He's with us, then why are we having all this trouble?  Where are His wonders?  He's abandoned us.

Angel:   Go in the strength you have!  And save Israel from the Midianites.  Am I not sending you?!

Gideon:  Pardon me sir...but HOW?  In case you haven't noticed, mine is the weakest tribe...and I AM THE WEAKEST LINK.

Angel:  Hey, no worries.  I will be with you.  And you will conquer those mean Midianites.  Not one will be left alive.

Gideon:  Pardon me sir...but oh yeah?  Listen, you have to give me a sign that it's really you.  (because obviously, the angel he's talking to was not enough--can you relate?!)

Angel:  Sure, I'll wait right here.   


Gideon prepares an offering and brings it back.  Picture that music from Jeopardy as the angel waits and waits during all this.  Da da da da, da da da, da da da da, DUM da da da da da.


Gideon brings the offering and sets it down.  The angel has fire consume the offering and then the angel disappears. 


Gideon:  Oh wow!  I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!  (sure, NOW he's in awe)


God:  Peace!  Do not be afraid.  You are not going to die.

So Gideon builds an altar and calls it The Lord is Peace.

Glimpse of grace:  Do you see it?  The man overcome with doubts finally comes to a place of peace.  And here's how I sum up the journey.  Our God calls us mighty warrior!  We say we're the weakest and the least.  Our God promises I am with you!  We say God's abandoned us.  God says go in the strength you have--because I am sending you and you will have victory!  We say, how can I be sure it's REALLY you talking to me?  Give me a sign.  

And you know what?  God waits patiently on our doubts, our questions, our uncertainty.  He did not react with anger to Gideon.  But, he was and is patient with our questioning.  And, if we press on enough with Him, we will see that He proves over and over and over again that He is who He says He is.  He'll keep telling us until we finally embrace this truth.

You want to know where we'll end up--if we just keep wrestling through our doubts with Him?  We'll end up like Gideon.  We will arrive at a place called PEACE.  Or, really--the truth of it is--that there, even in our crouching position, threshing our wheat in secret, it will become a place where the LORD IS PEACE.  

Gideon was about to enter a war. And, lest you think he never doubted again--he did.  Remember--he enters that war with asking God for more signs, throwing out his fleece to see if God made it damp--just to prove exactly what God had in store for him.  

But yet, THE LORD IS PEACE.  Wrestle it through.  Go ahead with it--let your doubts be known.  Express all your "buts" and ask the Lord to show up.  He will--patiently.  Again and again and again.  The truth of it is this...no doubt we struggle with is bigger than the fact that THE LORD IS PEACE.   

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