Easter has come and gone. Chocolate eggs have been found and (almost) all eaten. Easter services have been experienced around the globe, marking the amazing claim: Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed.
Part of the pain of losing faith is the journey. It’s never an instantaneous event where one wakes up simply to find no trace of belief left. It is a process.
Likewise, rediscovering faith is also a journey. It may happen over months or years. And it may result in a totally different faith–or radically changed perspective on truth–than previously held.
For those on this journey, Easter is a difficult time. It is a time of reflecting, mourning what is lost, “seeking the living among the dead,” wondering, hoping, praying (if one still believes enough to indulge in prayer).
Like facing down someone with a mental illness, well-meaning folks will say things like, “Jesus is risen! Just believe.”
This is like telling a manic depressive to “just get over it” or a crack addict to “just say ‘No’.”
The truth is those who doubt haven’t necessarily turned their back on faith. Most of them truly want to believe–they just can’t see their way clear to honestly do so at the present time. Talk of resurrection may bring hope that perhaps, just maybe, there is some truth to Jesus coming alive out of the garden tomb. Emotions may rise on singing the glorious Resurrection anthems, Christ The Lord is Risen Today, or Thine Be the Glory. Yet, to believe in what they sing is too far out of their reach.
Thats why the story of Thomas is so close to my heart. Thomas was a man like me who wouldn’t take things on board simply because someone told him they were true. He had to test the facts, run the experiments, document the evidence, check the science. . . .
And when he finally saw Jesus, alive, face-to-face, I don’t get the impression that his heart was amazingly and miraculously filled with faith. I take from his statement that there was something deep in the back of his mind that he still couldn’t shake, a distrust, an “I need more proof” space that was still open for other answers, other more reasonable claims.
And so he proclaimed, maybe timidly and maybe with some wonderment, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
Maybe you are praying that prayer today. Perhaps the answer is on its way, but possibly it will take some time. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of faith, no matter where you came from or where you are headed, God offers you the gift of resurrection. You don’t need to believe it right now. You don’t even need to want to believe in the resurrected Christ.
Honestly, you may never come to a place where you can believe in this Biblical claim of resurrection–be it the account of Jesus coming back to life or any faith in life beyond the grave.
But you need to know there is one thing that no depths of doubt, no amount of unbelief can take away from you, and that is the gift of God that we see in the resurrection story:
The gift of Hope.