December 21st is celebrated by the ancient Mother Church as the feast of St. Thomas, the disciple who wanted proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. He later went to India as a Christian evangelist and the church bearing his name survives to the present day. He died a martyr on this day in the year of our Lord 72.
I was thinking of St. Thomas this morning as one of the devotionals Melanie and I follow reported Elizabeth’s words to Mary when she suddenly showed up at Zechariah’s house. Elizabeth’s first comment was about how Mary’s response to the visitation by the angel Gabriel differed from the way Zechariah had responded.
Luke 1: 45. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
This was, of course, the point over which St. Thomas had stumbled. When Jesus invited Thomas to examine the wounds on his body, he also pronounced a blessing that echoed the one Elizabeth gave Mary.
John 20: 29. Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Instead of seeing, as Zechariah and Thomas desired, Mary was content to believe words conveying the promise and revelation to her. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
The other day, I had a St. Thomas moment. For two years I have been praying for, and asking others to pray for, a full healing from the stroke that crippled me. I have had daily episodes of tears, fears, and frustrations at the slow (if present at all) recovery I sense. I have wondered that anyone would ask me to pray for them, given the lack of much visible evidence for answered prayer in my own body.
In part to distract my own attention from these frustrations, I was listening to a lecture by Hugh Ross. Dr. Ross was going over the amazing and growing list of “fine tuning” that astronomers and physicists are recognizing at every level of the universe. There is growing, and sometimes annoyed, recognition among scientists that it has become impossible to deny the evidence pointing to an intelligent cause and purpose for the Creation. God’s fingerprints are all over the place and there are fresh discoveries every month. Dr. Ross says he tells skeptics who complain that there is not enough evidence for them to believe to simply wait another 30 days.
Although nothing in his talk explained why I suffered a stroke, I was reminded strongly that God is proceeding with a purpose. He has told all of us that much, even if not all of the details are clear to us yet.
As I reflected on those fingerprints, I found a renewed sense of peace in my spirit. God has promised good outcomes for His beloved children, even if we are still feeling our way along paths through the valley of the shadow of death. Reason again to celebrate the news of Christmas this weekend.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.