-Amanda Gayle Reed
28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” -John 20:28, Common English Bible
My siblings and I, like most kids, eventually learned about the upside-down glass of water trick in school. In case you aren’t familiar, it involves filling a glass to the brim with water and placing a sheet of paper over the mouth. When turned upside down the pressure from the air under the glass is strong enough to prevent the water from pushing the paper off the glass. It’s an awesome gravity-defying experiment for children to play with. We would tease each other by holding the glass over one another’s heads.
One day, joining in the teasing, my father brought a glass into the living room and held it over Mom’s head as he, in his best science-teacher voice, explained air pressure to us. Mom, who is famous for her intense hatred of being splashed or dunked under water, looked up with her best motherly-warning expression… but just as she looked up, the paper slipped and the cold tap water poured directly into her face.
Time froze in that moment. Dad had always warned us that this could happen. If there was an air bubble trapped under the paper, if the paper became wet, if there was a wrinkle in the paper, it wouldn’t hold. But it was seeing the water pour over our mother’s unexpecting face that really drove home that warning.
After that day my father’s warnings took on a whole new life. He wasn’t just talking about the what-ifs of science anymore, he was now making a proclamation about something he had experienced. There is a hard-earned wisdom in his words now. A very hard-earned wisdom, indeed!
Thomas had reservations about the story his friends told of Jesus, whom he knew to have been crucified, coming into their locked room and visiting with them. He had listened to his friends ramble on about their experience, but he had his doubts. He told them so much. He demanded proof… and Jesus came with that proof. Eight days later, there was Jesus, standing in that very same room, but this time offering his wounded hands and side to Thomas for inspection.
Thomas’ hand touched the gaping spear wound, traced the nail marks, and in that moment Thomas was no longer repeating a story he had heard from someone else, he was proclaiming what he knew to be true: My Lord and my God!
Doubt is only a weakness when we fail to ask the questions it poses. But when we ask, when we listen and watch for the answer, we become a people who are able to proclaim the Good News, not because we heard it from someone else, but because we have experienced it with our own lives.
About The Author
Rev. Amanda Gayle Reed is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She is a member of the West Virginia Conference currently serving a congregation in Gooding Idaho. She is a graduate of West Virginia State University (Institute, WV) and the Iliff School of Theology (Denver, Co) and frequently writes at AppalachianPreacher.com.