Be Like Thomas

May 16 / Kyle Norman
We give doubting Thomas a bad rap. The very way we identify this disciple of Jesus indicates he is not someone to emulate. Thomas is the naysayer, the skeptic. His insistence that he will not believe lest he sees the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and side, sticks out sorely against the pure belief of the other disciples. Because of this, we easily assume that doubts and questions are contrary to true faith.

Yet, what if Thomas is not as closed- off as we would think?

Tucked into this account is a description of Thomas’ journey with the disciples. “Eight days later,” John records, “Thomas was with the disciples in the upper room when Jesus appeared” (John 20:26). Thomas didn’t remove himself from the company of disciples just because he had questions and doubts. Although Thomas could not rejoice in the truth the other disciples rejoiced in, he remained a part of the community.

It can be tempting to believe that our doubts or questions separate us from the faith community. We fear that our questions speak against our devotion to God; they seem to accuse us of faithlessness. Thus, we jettison ourselves from the life of the community, until such time that we “figure things out.” This leaves us feeling alone and discouraged, lacking the resources needed to address the deep yearnings of our soul.

This was not Thomas’ experience. His questions lead him into community; his doubts caused him to journey with the disciples more closely. For eight days, Thomas sat with those who had witnessed the risen Lord. He listened to their experiences, felt their excitement, prayed along with them, and joined his voice to their song. During those eight days, the unseen Spirit was slowly expanding Thomas’ heart, preparing him to receive his Lord.

Eventually, Jesus appeared to Thomas in the very way he had heard about and longed for. When this occurred, Thomas erupted with an exultation of faith unrivaled in John’s gospel. With his eyes locked on Jesus, Thomas simply says “my Lord and my God” (20:28). Thomas places his life in the hands of the risen one, he worships at his nail marked feet. For Thomas, his devotion to Jesus comes through the pathway of his doubts.

We all have doubts and questions from time to time. Our faith is never lived in a straight line, nor does it always make sense. Our inability to dissect the ways of Jesus can easily lead us into a place of questioning or struggle. We may even feel, like Thomas, that the doubts and questions of our faith are insurmountable. Instead of allowing our struggles to create a chasm over which we cannot cross, the questions of our hearts form a bridge through which we draw closer to Jesus, and each other. Our doubt and questions call us to grow deeper.

Of course, there is one caveat: we may have to wait. For Thomas, Jesus’ appearance didn’t happen right away. Thomas waited eight days, not knowing what experience awaited him. I can imagine that Thomas, at times, would have been discouraged. “Why didn’t the Lord come again? Why wasn’t I having the same experience as the others? What was wrong with me that Jesus had yet to appear to me personally?” Still, Thomas remained. And eventually, the time came when Jesus proved himself faithful and present.

If you are wishing to go deeper in your faith, then be more like Thomas. Be open about your faith struggles, your questions, and your doubts. Relay them to a community of people who care for you and support you. You may even consider engaging a spiritual director, someone with whom you can meet regularly and explore the deep questions of your soul. Holding your questions before others can help move you into the place where Jesus is met. Like Thomas, it may be that the life of the community is the place where you become aware of the presence of the risen Lord. 

Kyle Norman

Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and is often asked to write or speak on the nature of Christian community, and the role of Spiritual disciplines in Christian life. His particular interest is how spiritual formation is rooted in our understanding of baptism. His personal blog can be found at