“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”1—Jesus , to Jairus
Steve was sharing with his friend, Ray, some personal life-struggles, when Ray surprised him with a question, “Have you ever really asked Jesus into your life?” A bit off-guard, Steve replied that he’d been a church-goer all his life, but Ray persisted, “But have you ever really committed to Him?” Ray then shared with Steve a prayer to receive Jesus as his Savior, which Steve took with him to consider further on his own. A couple of weeks later, Ray asked Steve if he’d prayed this prayer. “Yes,” he replied, “but I don’t feel any different.” Then Ray said two words that would change everything for Steve: “Just believe.”
As a disciple of Jesus, Thomas had seen much in the past three years: miracle after miracle, healing after healing, and the dead raised to life. He had heard much along the way: parable after parable, Scriptures explained, and the future foretold. Thomas himself had even participated in miracles and teaching, for he had been among those sent out in twos, going “from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.”2 But when his friends enthusiastically proclaimed their eyewitness report of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—“We have seen the Lord!”—Thomas said to them, “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,”3 his adamance perhaps as telling as his refusal.
As we approach the precipice of belief, new obstacles to faith emerge and old ones loom larger. Broken promises in our past make it difficult to openly trust today. Other belief systems confuse us as to which one is true, or dull us into the indefensible notion that all of them are. Losing control is always a fear, and relinquishing to One we cannot see is even more so. And sometimes, we simply doubt we can be forgiven. We do well to carefully consider our way, of course, for actions have eternal consequences, as does inaction, yet there will always be in this life one more question, one more objection, or one more fear. So we seek God in prayer and His word, and we pursue understanding, but for each of us, full and forever life in Christ ultimately comes down to two words: “Just believe.” They change everything.
Father, belief can be difficult for me as, in fear and pride, I struggle with relinquishing control and resting in you. Send your Spirit to give me the grace and strength to trust in your love and walk in your ways. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
1 Mark 5:36
2 Luke 9:6
3 John 20:25