When faith is weak we must turn to Christ who is the source and centre of all faith. Faith must be fed by the Word and thanksgiving to grow and strengthen.
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
It’s easy for us today to look down on Thomas a little. After all, he spent years with Christ, listening to His teaching and getting to know Him. Surely we could expect a friend and disciple to have ‘example faith.’ But how would we have responded in the same situation? None of us can be sure that we would have escaped Christ’s rebuke alongside Thomas. The truth is that we never know the real condition of our faith until we have to actually use it. We may only discover that our faith is weak when we’re already in a place where we must believe for the impossible. The principle, of course, is that we should walk in a man’s shoes before we judge his actions. The story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ raises some encouraging truths that can strengthen our walk of faith.
Faith must be used to be active and strong.
A truth often overlooked is that Faith is dynamic and powerful, but it never grows in a static state. This is the reason why we so easily drift off the right path in good times. We imagine our faith is strong but we never have to test it. In times of ease, faith is shelved because we don’t need it. We keep it handy, just in case, but it’s more of an ornament than a critical necessity. While we should enjoy the moments of green pastures and quiet waters as a blessing from God, we all too often forget that faith is weak when faith isn’t fed. It’s not enough to polish it every now and then and assure ourselves that we still have it. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). It has to be fed daily by the Word.
Another way to feed our dormant faith is praise and thanksgiving. We must constantly remember the things has done for us and others. These work together with the Word and are quietly ‘absorbed’ by our faith, ready for our moment of need. Faith is weak when it is starved, but it also grows weak through lack of exercise. Hebrews 10:38 starts with the words, Now the just shall live by faith. This is daily exercising our faith in everything, no matter how small or trivial. If we condition ourselves to thanksgiving even in the good times – and especially in the good times – we’re developing our faith for the bad times that will come. Taking God’s blessings for granted is dangerous. Aside from the sin of ingratitude, exercising our faith keeps it active and strong – fed, watered, and trained up for the next battle. Faith isn’t real unless we use it.
Our faith is in Christ, not in our having faith.
This is a lesson even Peter had to learn – Jesus had to lovingly restore him after his denials on the night of His arrest. We go through the times of comfort with the misplaced notion that yesterday’s faith is sufficient for today, and for the future. This is a deception the enemy loves to work with. Without realising it – good times tend to make us careless – we slide into complacency and pride. Our faith has served us well to this point, so we’re assured for the future. The keyword here is ‘our.’ Self, left unchallenged, will assume the glory. We had the faith, we exercised the faith, and our faith overcame. Along the way, Christ got left out of the equation. When faith is weak, we can be sure that it’s because Jesus isn’t in it. It may well be that this was the position poor Thomas found himself in.
Like Peter, Thomas may have erred in focusing on self and his own faith and strength rather than on Christ. When Jesus was taken away, a void was left. Faith without focus is meaningless. It offers nothing and is worth nothing. When we have faith in the fact that we have faith, we will discover that our faith is weak. It’s not anchored in Christ or focused on Him. Whatever faith we may have had yesterday is irrelevant, because faith is dynamic. God intends that it grow constantly, not remain static. We are meant to grow daily as well into maturity. Part of this is ever-increasing faith. The moment we have faith in our faith, we sever the divine, supernatural power of God working in us. Faith is only relevant when Christ is at its core. This is why Jesus, despite His gentle rebuke, restored Thomas as He did Peter.
God’s response when faith is weak.
At first glance, it may seem that Jesus is saying, here, that those whose faith is weak aren’t ‘blessed.’ If this were true, why bother to waste time with Thomas? If he was to be ‘not blessed’ because of his weak faith, it made more sense to simply ignore him. Yet Jesus made a point of dealing with Thomas’ unbelief. His response was personal and intimate – to the point where He invited Thomas to actually touch His wounds. Doubting Thomas is where we get the expression ‘seeing is believing’ though the world has forgotten this. The disciple was in a crisis of faith. His unbelief blocked the joy of the resurrection of Christ and the new life it brought. Thomas was one of Christ’s own, and He would not allow a moment of unbelief to snatch him from His hand. We cannot say that Thomas was not blessed.
So why, then, did Jesus stress the fact that those who believe without seeing are blessed? It seems contradictory and to understand we must look at principle of walking by faith. The simple truth is that when we cultivate a life of faith in Christ, fed by the Word and exercised by thanksgiving, we are continually blessed. This blessing has nothing to do with worldly expectations as far as blessings go. It is the blessing that comes from using our faith daily – absolute peace, comfort, and assurance. Those who believe without seeing – who take God at His word – are spared the agony of doubt and confusion. Our focus is Jesus, who is unshakeable. We are constantly blessed by intimacy and the certainty that our God is greater than everything else we may encounter. Our blessing is the daily joy of the Lord.
When faith is weak we must look to the source.
Faith is a gift of God. Our responsibility is to nurture it, feed it, and exercise it. But we are enabled in that by God, who is the source and knows what we need to grow it. Thomas is our reminder that there will be time when our faith is weak. None of us are exempt. We will all discover that what we thought we had is not there. In our unbelief, we can only turn to Him who supplies our need. Thomas is our assurance that God will not turn His back on us. We are His and He will lovingly restore us. What does the rebuke matter when Jesus lovingly intervenes? Thomas’ faith was restored when he declared the true identity of Christ. That is our example. No matter what our doubts or unbelief, when we declare Christ, we will be restored. He is the source of faith.
Lord Jesus, forgive us and restore us if we, like Thomas, have lost sight of You and slipped into doubt or confusion. Thank You for Your love, mercy, and grace, and for reminding us that You will not allow anything to snatch us from Your hand. Help us to not grow complacent, and to feed our faith with Your Word and thanksgiving for all You do, have done, and will do. Help us to keep our eyes on You, and to declare Your glory and power in our lives. Keep us, Lord, close to Your heart, and teach us to live by faith.