Thomas had made himself perfectly clear.
He was resolute in his ‘unless.’ Absent compelling evidence, the kind that he could see and touch, he would not believe. Never mind that he was surrounded by believing friends. Their enthusiastic reports were not enough to pull faith from the clinched jaws of doubt. Thomas would need something more.
And something more appeared. Jesus came and stood among them: “Put your finger here . . . put your hand here.” The resolute ‘unless’ gave way to worship. “My Lord and my God.” The one who had announced his unbelief was now a believer.
**********We are hardly surprised that Thomas’ story ends as it does. How could it be otherwise? Thomas refuses to believe. Thomas believes. He insists on evidence. He erupts in worship. The scenes unfold quickly, a seamless transition from here to there, from doubt to faith.
Except for this: Eight days.
Jesus does not rush in to rescue Thomas from his questions. Before Jesus appears among his disciples there are eight days . . . of what? We are not told. Most likely those eight days were days of conversation, eight days of argument, eight days of efforts to persuade met by stubborn resistance, eight days of frustration.
Why does Jesus linger? Why does he take so long to show up and show off and bring the skeptic to his knees?
Such questions are hard for us. We may not doubt God, but neither do we understand God’s ways. We may not question God’s love, but we have plenty of questions about God’s timing. We may not question God’s power, but we have plenty of questions about God’s plan.
This we know for certain: For eight days Thomas had friends who were willing to tell him, “We have seen the Lord.” He didn’t believe it – but they told him anyway, probably over and over again. And what’s more they stayed with him. They didn’t leave. When Jesus appeared they were all there.
It is in those eight days that all of us a prone to be doubters. As unlikely as it seems, God is at work in the ‘eight days.’ When it looks as if nothing is happening, more is happening than we know. We may be stuck; the Spirit moves freely, often in ways unnoticed.
Are you waiting for someone to come to faith, make the move from resistance to receiving, from questioning to believing? That can be a long story: it may be eight days . . . it may well be eight years. Keep saying what you know to be true. And stay with it. Stay with him or her, lost friend, wayward child, stone-cold spouse, just stay there and live a life that says “I have seen the Lord.”
Trust Jesus to show up and do the rest. He is at work, even in the eight days. Don’t miss the end of the story.
Few things are harder for us, O God, than waiting. We crave quick results and speedy answers to prayer – eight minutes rather than eight days. Keep us faithful in the waiting seasons, whatever they may be, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.