Friday 24 April 2020
Jesus said to Thomas “See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. “
One of the good things for me during this season is I have had more time to prayer walk. As I do each day when I take Alfie (our dog) for his walk. I become aware of His loving presence as I can look at the beauty of creation. I have a place I always stop, and have found that I can pray there very freely and passionately looking out over the whole town, I just need to keep an eye out for other dog walkers that I don’t scare them with my out loud praying! Alfie has got used to me praying out loud, but still looks at me with a look that says “you might be my master but what on earth are you on about crazy man.”
On Monday as I started walking, I didn’t feel anything at all, even arriving at my prayer spot, I couldn’t pray, as I walked back towards the car, it was cold the sun disappeared behind a cloud, and it felt empty apart from the sound of the wind, it felt almost as if God has abandoned the world and me and for a while I felt doubt, “what if God was not real” what if the world was really just empty, with no God, what would that mean for my life, and for the purpose that I have lived for many years. For a moment I felt alone in empty world. I walked on feeling alone, empty, cold and sad wrestling with these thoughts, I just couldn’t understand it when just the previous days the Lord has felt so near and close.
As I emerged from the end of the field the sun came out again, and I could feel it on my face as I warmed, I could feel my heart warming again to the awareness of God’s presence and love and I knew that I was not alone, and the world was not empty and whatever I had felt was only temporary. God spoke to me through that short experience that there are times for all of us when doubts come in, when we question our faith, when we wonder if God has abandoned us. In these times we need to cling on, keeping walking best we can with Jesus, walking by faith not just how we feel, holding on to the truth of the bible and God’s great promises. There are some beautiful scriptures to hold onto when doubts come, or when your faith is tested by feeling alone Isaiah 54 v7 has God speaking to Israel in a time of testing "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. The Psalms are full of encouragement from people who have felt abandoned and full of doubt King David wrote in Psalm 30:4-5 to encourage people who felt this way to continue to worship and praise God in all circumstances he wrote
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
We will be looking together in our service this week at the story of Doubting Thomas, who was in that place of feeling abandoned and full of doubt, in a place of discouragement but yet just one glimpse again of the risen Jesus refreshed and filled him again to live a life of faith. I read the other day a great quote from someone who said “if you don't have doubts, you're either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants-in-the-pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving. May we keep moving and growing in faith and go onto to love and serve Jesus more deeply.
John 20 v 24-31
It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.