The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of The Georgia Virtue.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com.
Soon after Jesus had resurrected, we find a beautiful passage found in John chapter 20 that is a wonderful example of how much God loves us and wants to encourage us. The friends and family of Christ were gathered together after his horrific crucifixion and were still grieving over his death when all of a sudden, he appears in their midst! Even though they remembered how he had promised to return I’m sure they were still awestruck. Jesus stretches out His hands and reveals his previous wounds, and of course, they are overjoyed to see him again. He spoke peace and breathed on them and before he left, he filled them with the Holy Spirit. Thomas was not there that night and later when he returned verse 25 says, “The other disciples, therefore, said to him, we have seen the Lord, but Thomas replied, unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later the group came together again and like last time Jesus miraculously appeared except this time Thomas was present. Christ looked at Thomas and told him to reach out and touch the scars, and he did. Jesus said, “Be not faithless, but believing,” as Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.” When we are discouraged and struggling to believe, we can know that God will always make the extra effort to prove how much he loves us and wants us to believe. He is encouraging us today to know that his presence is all around us. You see, Thomas represents everyone when it comes to doubt as believing without seeing is truly difficult. This is where faith becomes essential within our understanding that just because we cannot see God, it does not mean he is not there. In verse 29 we read, “Jesus said unto him, Thomas because you have seen me, you believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Faith is having an optimistic attitude even when it seems the situation is hopeless. If our lives were filled with happiness with no problems at all, we would not sense the urgency to pray in faith. Those who read the Bible are well aware of what is coming in the future and the time to build faith is now. Walls of faith are built one brick at a time, which means if we do not develop faith every day we cannot instantly generate faith when tragedy comes. We know that global principalities and evil strongholds will become more aggressive as the return of Christ draws near. This is because Satan has been given temporary permission by God to be a puppet master for the leaders of the world. I Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” We should not be shocked to witness wars, violence, hatred, division, and oppressive governments but we are reminded in God’s word 365 times to “fear not.” It’s clear the virus has caused widespread panic and I believe we are facing one of the most aggressive attacks from Satan that I have seen in my lifetime. “Pray without ceasing” I Thessalonians 5:17.
Anxiety and stress can negatively affect our spiritual joy, our conscience and our physical bodies as we cannot allow our emotions to distract us from our relationship with Christ. Walking with Jesus allows us to live in his peace even in the midst of the storm. Spiritual confidence is activated when the determination to trust God becomes stronger than the temptation to be afraid. We cannot live in faith and fear at the same time. If we choose to feed our faith, our fears will starve. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying, “To the one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To those without faith, no explanation is possible.” Whatever trial we are going through today, we have the opportunity to fill our hearts with God’s promises or be drowned in a sea of confusion and doubt. Our natural senses desire to control us, but faith is spiritual and declares that we will hope and trust in the Lord no matter the circumstances. Remember, God did not give us a spirit of fear. “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all of my fears” Psalm 34:4.