Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 NET)
This happened after Jesus appeared to ten of the disciples on the afternoon or evening of the day He rose from the dead. Because Thomas was not with them, he did not see Jesus alive, and refused to believe in His resurrection until he touched Jesus’ wounds. Because of this, Thomas has been known as a doubter for all these years. People have criticized him for his lack of faith, but it’s interesting that Jesus did not criticize him for his behavior.
Jesus allowed him to struggle for eight days. He could have made an exception and appeared to him that first day, but He left him to battle it out with his faith. And the simple fact that Thomas stayed with the remaining disciples shows that he wanted to believe but was having trouble. And when He did finally appear, He immediately offered to allow Thomas to do exactly what he had been demanding – though Thomas no longer needed that proof.
Doubt and unbelief are unhealthy, but God knows that we all have questions that need to be answered, and doubts that need to be fought off. We are not perfect, and God doesn’t expect us to be, but what He does expect is that we be honest with ourselves, and make an effort to deal with our doubts. Things that come easy do not force us to grow, only hard times and struggles do that. I’m sure that Thomas learned a valuable lesson over those eight days, one that he never forget, but that is only because it was painfully hard. Because of that it stuck with him.
Nowhere in the Bible do we see God rebuking sincere people who were struggling with doubts. He always helped and encouraged them. God only rebuked those who were false and lazy about their faith, those who gave in to hypocrisy.
If you are going through a tough time in your life, hold on, stay sincere, and keep fighting. God sees your effort and will come through for you like He did for Thomas.