A few months ago, God started speaking to me about great faith and where it comes from. The message I want to share focuses on three men in scripture: Abraham, Elijah and Thomas. My mother-in-law laughed at me when I said that I wanted to talk about Thomas as a man of great faith, but he’s in the lineup all the same.
First let’s look at Abraham, or Abram at the time. In Genesis 15:7, God essentially promises Abram land and Abram responds by asking, “But how will I know for sure?” We know that Abram was a man of faith. In the very verse before this one, God told Abram that he would have a son and Abram believed the Lord because of his great faith, and it was counted as righteousness.
Similarly, when we look at 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah running in fear and hiding in the wilderness. He left his servant behind and crawled into the desert, wanting to die. In verse 4, he calls out and says, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He is consumed by fear, but we know that Elijah, too, was a man of faith because in the chapter before this He called down the fire of the Lord because of his great faith and defeated the Prophets of Baal.
And then there’s Thomas. I have a co-worker who recently said, “I’m pretty sure Thomas has the worst PR rep in all of the New Testament.” Thomas is remembered for John 20:25, where he speaks to the disciples when they tell him that Jesus had risen. He told 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.” I’ll admit that it probably wasn’t the best response he could have given, but what makes it so much different from the disbelief of Abram or the fear of Elijah? In fact, if you look back at John 11 when Jesus is going to see Lazarus in Judea, where the Jews were waiting to stone Him, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” He was willing to die with Jesus because of his great faith. And even though we remember Thomas as “Doubting Thomas”, it’s important to realize that that’s not how God looks at him.
God is so faithful that He never lets our doubts in moments of fear define who we are to Him. I want to go back through these stories and really focus on how God responds to each of these men in their moments of doubt.
Let’s start in Genesis. God has just told Abram that he will possess the land and Abram asks Him, “But how can I be sure?” God responds by making a covenant with Abram – an unbreakable promise that requires nothing from Abram. Verse 18 says, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land’.” And what happens after that? Abraham becomes the father of all nations. Scripture says because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.
With Elijah, the Lord was patient with him in the desert, letting him rest and regain his strength. He had angels bring him food and then led him to Mount Horeb, where God appeared to Him and told him to anoint his successor. Again, what happened after that? Elijah went on to prophesy and grow his faith and he never had to face death. God sent chariots and horses of fire and took Elijah up to Heaven in a whirlwind.
And how did God respond to Thomas? Jesus came to him and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” He met him at his faith level and Thomas immediately confessed his faith, saying, “My Lord and my God”. He went on to travel and preach the Gospel, baptizing and bringing many to faith.
Be encouraged, seeing that not only does God meet you at your faith level – he also doesn’t leave you there.
So many times, when I’ve had a moment of doubt, my first instinct is to try to hide it from God or pretend it’s not there. But I truly believe we serve a God who loves to use those moments of doubt to grow our faith. He will always meet us exactly where we are, whether we are standing outside looking at the stars, hiding out in the wilderness, standing among friends, or sitting in a quiet room praying for a sign. All we have to do is call out to Him and He will meet us and bring us closer to Him.
There are two verses I want to leave you with. The first is for when you ask yourself, ‘What exactly is faith?’ Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And the second is for when you ask yourself, ‘What can faith do?’ Matthew 17:20 says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
The video below is one of the most powerful videos I’ve seen on doubt and the role it plays in the Christian walk.
“My child, when it seems like you have all the right questions, but never enough answers, and your faith is small enough to fit in the cracks of your palms, I told you: Faith the size of mustard seeds can rearrange whole landscapes. Before you doubt me, doubt your doubts. Doubt your doubts and you will see they are just as empty as the tomb that I walked from.”