Summary: During our life, from baptism and going home to the Lord, we live "in between" faith and doubt. But not all doubt is bad, and it can be used to draw us closer to God.
What is our motto? “A believing church in a doubting world.” St. Thomas the Disciple is a church that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does that—believing in Jesus Christ—mean? Isn’t that the real question? Lots of churches, real and so-called, profess some kind of belief in Jesus; and even Muslims call Jesus a prophet.
When proclaim that we believe in Jesus, we confess, with St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). We receive Jesus and believe in His Name, and become children of God (Jn. 1:12,13). We acknowledge that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). We attest that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn. 3:17). And that “God raised him from the dead…because death could not keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). And that through Him, we have eternal life (Jn. 3:15,16). We are a believing church in a doubting world, and that’s what we believe.
St. Thomas himself struggled with belief. When Jesus went to Judea to raise Lazarus, Thomas declared, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (Jn. 11:16). Jesus intended to raise Lazarus from the dead, and Thomas could only think that Jesus Himself would end up dead. He didn’t seem to struggle with the idea that Jesus could save Lazarus, but he wasn’t sure that Jesus could save Himself. When Jesus said, “You know the way to the place where I am going,” Thomas replied, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way” (Jn. 14:5,6). Thomas understood the gravity of the evening, and he didn’t want any confusion in Jesus’ words. St. Thomas struggled with belief, with the “in between” of faith.
We live in between. We live in between our salvation’s inception—its birth—in baptism, and its maturation—its perfection, completion, and end—at the consummation of the age. If, as the author of Hebrews writes, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1), then we are in between “what we hope for”, and not seeing it. That is the posture of faith—the posture of “in between.”
Faith does not possess or have what is hoped for; otherwise it wouldn’t be faith (cf. Rom 8:24). I don’t hope that I have on shoes and socks, because I can quite plainly see, feel, and even smell that I am actually wearing shoes and socks. But I hope that I will have savings enough for retirement when I’m 67-1/2 years old, and I have at least some measure of faith that the expert advice I’ve received and the preparations I’m making will be adequate. And yet I certainly have some doubt about it.
As we live “in between”, doubt is mingled in with our faith. Doubt is part of life, both Christian and secular. God does not grant us a full, perfect vision of eternity while we live here. We receive glimpses of it, and we feel touches of it, but the fullness is not yet given us, just as I catch sight of my retirement every now and then. But sometimes it seems as if retirement will never happen. And sometimes it feels like the promises of God are for somebody else, and that I’ll never receive my hope in heaven. Sometimes doubt stands up and asserts itself.
Throughout the Bible, we read about men and women who also confronted the “in between” of faith and doubt.
When the angel spoke to Zechariah and told him “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John,” Lk. 1:13), he responded, “How can I be sure of this?” (Lk. 1:18).
When the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus” (Lk. 1:31), she responded, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Lk. 1:34)
When Joseph considered divorcing Mary quietly, God intervened and assured him that “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 1:20).
When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to ask< “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mt. 11:3), Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see” (Mt. 11:4).
After His Transfiguration, when Jesus came down to find the boy with an evil spirit, the father asked him, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus said, “If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes.” And the father replied, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mk. 9:22–24).