08/03/2012 10:45 am ET Updated Oct 03, 2012

The Burden of Belief: A Christian Meditation on Doubt and Despair

"My Lord and my God!" Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me." --John 20:19-29 NLT

Some find it easy to believe.
Some are strong, firm, resilient, & certain in their faith.
Some just know without a doubt that Jesus is alive.
That Jesus is Lord, and that God is in control.

And blessed are you who believe without seeing!


Then there are those who work very hard
to convince themselves that they believe.
They're scared of potential consequences of admitting they have any doubts.

They've heard it said too many times...
if you believe;
if you pray;
if you ask;
if your faith is strong enough.

And they want God to love them.
They need Jesus to save them.
But they're afraid they may not be sincere enough to satisfy God.

They view God somewhat like Tinkerbell --
they must clap and proclaim convincingly
that they do believe in fairies!
that they do believe in Jesus!
that they do believe in God!

And they work and work and work
hoping that they, too, will hear these words,
"Blessed are YOU who believe without seeing me."


But there are also those who find it very difficult to believe...
they have seen the unspeakable brutality of the Holocaust;
when they have seen the unspeakable brutality of racism;
they have felt the burning sting of the whip from "Christian" men;
they have watched an innocent child suffer from birth;
they have watched a mother bury her own child;
they have been betrayed by those they loved and trusted the most.

And they look around at others and say
"blessed are you who believe
but we have seen...
but we have seen...
we have seen too much.

"And we simply cannot play silly Tinkerbell games
to massage the ego of some god suffering from low self-esteem."

Yes, blessed are you who believe and have not seen...

But they have seen,
and nobody knows the horrors they've seen,
and believing is close to impossible.


Rev. Jim England tells of speaking with a fellow minister/friend
who had just gone through the death of two close family members,
one under very tragic circumstances.

The minister/friend shared with Jim England
that she honestly did not know
if she even believed that stuff about God anymore.

And Jim asked her, with Sunday is coming around,
What will she -- a minister -- do?

And she answered,
"I guess I have to trust (the congregation) to believe for me
until I can believe it again for myself."


Sometimes our doubts are so great --
and sometimes we cannot believe anymore.

But we want to believe,
and we keep going to worship,
we keep talking about faith with trusted friends,
and we keep singing together,

and we discover that even when we don't believe anymore,
others are believing for us,
others are trusting for us,
others are sustaining our faith for us,
until we are able to believe again ourselves.


All of us have various degrees of certainty about God;
about Christ;
about hope;
about life eternal.

But it's not about our convincing ourselves that we have no doubts
in order to convince God that we believe enough
(whatever "enough" is)...

It's about God loving us regardless of our ability to believe.

And it's about the community of faith carrying our faith for us.

Feel the breath of Jesus breathing upon you
and hear the voice of Jesus saying to you,
"Peace be with you."

So let it be.

This meditation was inspired partly by Daniel Bailey's song "Burden of Belief." CLICK HERE to listen.