Summary: Thomas had doubts about the Ressurection of our Lord and Savior. This is my attempt to explain why doubting and questioning our faith is normal and can make us better Christians in the end.
“I Doubt It”
Years ago, back in my single days, my friends and I would play poker once a week. Unlike the current fad for playing the poker variation know as “Texas Hold-Em” we played all sorts of poker games commonly referred to as “Dealer’s Choice”. There were times when we would have impromptu poker games, which could be played without the use of a deck of cards. We would use $1 bills drawn at random from a “kitty” and the game had various names such as “Liar’s Poker or “I Doubt It”. Instead of cards, the players would take a $1 bill and use the serial number as their “hand”. A number 1 would be an Ace and numbers 2-0 would be the equivalent of cards 2-10 in a deck. There were, of course no face cards. The best hand would the most of one number. There were no straights, flushes, pairs or full houses. Someone would start the game by bidding his hand saying I have three two’s or three three’s, etc. The next person had to either bid higher or call your bluff. The object would be to lie as much as you thought you could get away with about the hand you had. We used the collective sum of the numbers of all the bills in use so the bidding could get quite high. A $1 bill has eight serial numbers so the maximum bid would be 8 times the number of players. If four people were playing, the highest bid could theoretically be 32 Aces, which would be highly unlikely. A player who bid higher than the number he actually held had to rely on the fact that some of the other players bills had the same numbers, which he could use. I have never seen a bill with eight numbers all the same. We once ran across a bill with six identical numbers, though. If another person thought you didn’t have the hand you said you had, they would call your bluff by saying “liar” or “I doubt it”. Let’s say the bidder had bid nine sevens. All the players would lay their bills down and you would count the total number of times the number seven appeared on all of the bills in play. If the number was equal to or more than the bid, the bidder would win and the doubter was forced to pay the bidder $1 and, if not, the bidder would pay the doubter $1. Some people would start out by flagrantly lying, maybe bidding three fives without having a single five in their hand, hoping someone with fives on their bill would up the bid. No one would call you a liar by saying "I doubt it" early in the game while the bids were low so it was usually safe to lie early on. As the bidding went on it became extremely risky to lie, lest you get caught. Sometimes, if your hand was really good you could tell the truth early and make a high bid, forcing the next player to bid something he didn’t have or call your bluff. The game got to be quite interesting, especially if there were four or more players playing. The lying bids and the truthful bids would go on until someone couldn’t go any further and said, “I doubt it”. Doubting someone stopped all the lying, all the stretching of the truth, all the maneuvering and forced everyone to tell the truth, to reveal your honesty, or your dishonesty, whichever was the case. Doubting someone was the great equalizer, the ultimate lie detector. To doubt was to lay your cards on the table and let the facts speak for themselves.
Doubting is a healthy part of life. Doubting forces the truth to the forefront where it can be seen and recognized by all for what it is. Those who have no doubt in their lives are either very manipulated people, very naive, or maybe they just don’t care about the truth. In any case, if either of these attributes is ascribed to a person, it is a sad commentary on that person. To believe everything one is told, without doubt, can lead to frustration and disappointment if you have been mislead. If you don’t doubt, simply because you don’t care, it means that you are lacking in spirit. A desire to know the truth is healthy and desirable and should not be discouraged. The truth will speak for itself and God will not dismiss a doubting spirit if it seeks the truth. We’ve all been around little children who incessantly ask question after question and, when told the answer, will invariably follow up with the word “why”? Why, why, why? It’s not that they doubt us or somehow believe that we are pathological liars, but they are trying to ascertain the truth and should not be discouraged from asking. Doubting, asking why, forces us to find answers to the difficult questions in life. Thomas doubted, not because he was lacking in faith but because he wanted the truth to be shown for all to see. He wanted to lay the cards on the table, so to speak. We’ve all been around the eternal skeptic, someone who does not believe anything he’s told even when the truth is laid out before his very eyes. There are those who doubt that man ever walked on the moon, that it was all an elaborate hoax. There are those who doubt that the Holocaust ever happened. Sometimes we cannot convince some people of the truth. I feel sorry for those individuals. Their confining views make them prisoners in their own mind. There is a passage by Jesus from John 8:32, which says, “…and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Jesus said, as recorded in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth, and the life”. In seeing Jesus, alive as his brethren had proclaimed, Thomas was set free, with no nagging doubts and no wondering. He was now free to let his faith flourish and grow, as were the others. They now knew the truth and were free.