My husband and I sat across the table at a steakhouse from one of my best friends and her husband. She was barely able to make it through the meal due to morning sickness. I was barely able to make it through the meal due to despair.
My heart ached for what she had growing inside of her. Although my husband and I hadn’t been trying for a baby for all that long, it seemed like forever. My greatest fear was that my mom’s seven-year struggle to conceive would be my heartache as well. I tried to be happy for my friend but my heart felt empty.
Why had God visited her and given her the desire of her heart but not me? Why was I having to wait with no promise that He would even visit me?
“But…Thomas (called “Twin”) was not with [the disciples] when Jesus came…After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them” (John 20: 24, 26)
Thomas, for an unknown reason, was not with the disciples when Jesus had first appeared to them after he was raised from the dead. When the disciples tried to tell Thomas that they saw Jesus, he could not believe.
I feel for Thomas. Jesus visited the others. He was the only one left out. For eight days – 8 days! – Thomas had to live with the fact that the others had seen Jesus but he hadn’t. Why didn’t Jesus at least appear to him like he did to Mary Magdalene? What a lonely, heart-wrenching eight days.
Was he not as special as the others? Had Jesus forgotten about him? I’m sure his thoughts were all over the place with despair.
But he stayed. Eight days later, Thomas was with the disciples. He didn’t flee or run away. Even though he must have felt like the black sheep, he stayed.
“Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.’ Thomas responded to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” (John 20: 26b-28)
Finally, after eight long days, Jesus appeared to Thomas. And when He did, his lesson to Thomas was on belief.
Thomas could understand the darkness of unbelief, the wanting to believe but the inability to do so.
I have to believe that in Thomas’s subsequent ministry, he used that eight-day experience as He shared Jesus with others. Historical evidence shows that Thomas traveled to India to preach the gospel. As he shared Jesus with others, He had an ability to understand the unbelief that would come from a people who had never seen Jesus. But he could point to Jesus’ next statement:
“Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed'” (John 20: 29).
The reason Thomas saw Jesus the second time He appeared to His disciples was that he stayed. In those agonizing months of waiting for God to visit me with a child, I poured my heart into studying women of the Bible who were barren. Although I was not barren, it helped me to stay in the Word and to press into Jesus as I waited. I didn’t run away in despair or resentment. And when the time came, God visited me. My husband and I found out we would have our first child.
When you see Jesus’ presence with others, when you feel forgotten, when you can’t believe even though you want to — STAY. Just as Jesus had a purpose in Thomas’ eight days, he also has a purpose in your wait. He’ll come at the right time. He may not always answer your prayer exactly how you expect, but He will come. He hasn’t forgotten.