“I believe; help my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24)
Part of the brilliant perfection of our faith is that we can see ourselves so clearly in the people who walked with Jesus during His time here on Earth. The Gospel accounts put their full humanity on display. Sometimes we’re like St. Peter sinking in the water or denying Christ; other times we’re like St. Peter fearlessly proclaiming the Gospel after Pentecost. Sometimes we’re with those followers of Jesus who ran away during His Passion; other times we’re keeping Our Lady company at the foot of the cross. Sometimes we’re like St. Thomas, full of faith, saying “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16); other times, we’re putting our fingers in Christ’s wounds to make sure they’re really there.
I can relate to Thomas because I also struggle to put my complete trust in what “God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). After losing my fertility to cancer, I find that I now focus my hopes and dreams on adopting children one day, but this can function like a band-aid that covers over the scar of not being able to physically bear children. Consequently, I’m already nervous about what it will mean for my husband and I if it doesn’t work out. I fast-forward in my head to worrying about all of the paperwork, to failed adoptions, to rejection and then back to the paperwork again (this is a big source of anxiety for me, if you couldn’t tell!) – and there is always the possibility that my cancer will recur. I would like God to just tell me how it ends already so that I don’t have to suffer blindly. In moments of peace, deep down, I know I lack the faith to trust that, no matter what happens, God’s love and providence will always accompany us. Like Thomas, I would rather see the proof right now. If He would just show me that everything is going to be ok, then I would be fine. If I could just see God’s wounds and hear His voice telling me not to worry because He is risen, and that He loves me and my husband and will take care of us always – even if our dreams don’t come true – then I could relax.
But God is teaching me how to trust Him in the way that He knows best – in the way I need to be taught – just like He taught St. Thomas in the way he needed to be taught. He shows me His wounds by consoling my heart at times, guiding me down the path like a gentle shepherd, patient with me as a loving Father. He knows what I need before I need it, knows what my prayer is before I say it (Matt 6:8). God in His perfect mercy met Thomas where he was, inviting him to “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). (And this actually happens just a few lines after He specifically tells St. Mary Magdalene not to touch Him in John 20:17.) The same God who made clothes for Adam and Eve after they sinned in the garden (Gen 3:21) and taught the People of Israel to trust him in the wilderness is the same God who led Thomas; He likewise wants to lead me, and you, and all of us from within our places of weakness to become who we are truly meant to be: people who are more like Him (2 Pet 1:4). Indeed, Thomas went forth from the Upper Room; he spread the Gospel, helped found the Church, and won the crown of martyrdom. The God who is outside of time knew all of Thomas’s weaknesses and He chose him anyway. In the same way He knows all of my weaknesses, all of our weaknesses, but He chose us for this cross anyway because He is making us into people who can carry it, proving to us that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).
So let us believe that that He is working in us and in our lives even when we don’t see Him there; that He loves us even when we don’t feel it; that He is showing His wounds to God the Father in Heaven, interceding for us, even when we would want to put our hands in His side. Let us learn from the example of St. Thomas that God will meet us where we are and teach us in the way we personally need to be taught, so that we might grow, believe, allow God’s will to be done in our lives, trust that He is sleeping in our boat (Matt 8:23–27) even if we seem to be steering it alone, and pray together with St. Faustina this Divine Mercy Sunday: “Jesus, I trust in You!”
Cassandra is a cancer survivor who has been married to her husband Michael for over four years. She works for the Instituto de Filosofía Edith Stein in Granada, Spain and enjoys knitting and photography in her spare time.