Photo – Trinity College, Dublin
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!””
John 20:27 NLT
Thomas is terrific, a man who heard of Jesus’ resurrection yet would not believe it personally until he saw it for himself. Does this deserve the adjective ‘doubting’? I think not. Here was a man who was unwilling to live out of the testimony and experience of others. He needed a personal and real encounter with the resurrected Christ. A personal encounter will sustain us when life appears to be failing us.
My natural response to doubt is to establish principles to support the subject of my doubt. This is because I think first. My head, if left to its own devices, will seek to manage my life through intellectual processes. Engaging as they prove to be, they can never move me beyond my doubts. I have to encounter God in some way that convinces me that what I, or others, propose is true in actuality.
My initial movement towards contemplative prayer was an intellectual process. I liked what I read of ancient and contemporary authors. It all made sense and I could understand the stance they took to enter into the silence. Yet, it quickly became clear that my intellectual understanding sought a technique or method to convince me that I was on the right track.
It took a while to burn through these mental exercises and stop long enough to recognise and admit all I was doing was designing a straitjacket of contemplative theology; accurate but not life-giving at any level. What I needed was to experience the reality that God is prayer and my contemplation was encountering God, not creating a new prayer suit.
Question – Consider the ways in which you encounter God; how have they changed you?
Prayer – Lord God, thank you for revealing yourself to us in Christ and for giving us your Spirit to know you each day.