For many, Easter is like Christmas. It is one of the times that you might find yourself going to church. Attending church on Easter makes your parents happy and the kids love it. All the pageantry, Easter egg hunts and delightful Easter brunches that usually follow. It is an easy “fix” for your weary, spiritual conscience and feels good at the same time.
That spiritual conscience nags at you from time to time. It is a pesky little voice that harkens you back to your childhood and the weekly church services your parents insisted you attend. Now on your own you have pretty much thrown over the idea of a Risen Christ. I mean what kind of religion creates a holiday that venerates killing their leader on a cross and then rectifying the whole mess by raising him up three days later? To say you have doubts about it would be a whopping understatement. Ha!
Yet, in the back of your mind you still wonder if it might be true. Your head is doing a good job of denying what your heart is telling you is true. Even so, the doubts remain. How can the doubts be answered or at least, dispelled?
Well, for starters, consider that doubts are not gigantic obstacles to faith but rather steppingstones. Embrace your Easter doubts. By hugging them close you validate them as genuine. By doing that, it frees you to explore your doubts without feeling you’ve capitulated or surrendered.
They are steppingstones because doubts are the first step to faith. How does that work? Imagine that you are shopping for a new washer/dryer set and the salesperson claims you can save lots of money by washing your fine cashmere and silks in the delicate cycle instead of incurring dry cleaning charges. Your doubts are huge. In the back of your mind, you think the claim is hype and wonder if the salesperson clapped for Tinkerbell in the Peter Pan story.
Yet, when you try her theory and it works, your doubts have been transformed to certainty. English philosopher Francis Bacon said as much: “If a man will begin with certainty, he shall end in doubt; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” Consider this excerpt from book, Come and See: An Invitation to Reclaim Your Life’s Balance,
“One of the greatest instances of doubt becoming faith is the story of Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples. It is recorded in John 20:25–28, that when Thomas’s fellow disciples told him that they had seen the risen Jesus, Thomas had serious doubts. He said he would only believe Jesus had risen from the dead if he could place his fingers in the nail holes in Jesus’s hands and put his own hand into Jesus’s side where Jesus had been pierced by a spear while hanging on the cross. When Jesus appeared, Thomas was able to touch his hands and his sides, using his doubts as a way to pursue the truth. In that moment, his doubts evaporated and he proclaimed certainty in the risen Christ with one of the most cherished and emphatic declarations ever spoken, saying, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus’s gracious reaction to Thomas’s search for answers reminds us that doubts are natural and not to be feared. It’s true that doubt can make us feel isolated or frozen in place, especially if we use it as an excuse not to explore other ideas rather than an impetus to do so. In those moments, we forget that doubt and faith are really in the same family. As author Khalil Gibran wrote, “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” Go ahead and test-drive your doubts on the way toward faith. Experience the cleansing as his love washes over you. In the end, your doubts may remain alongside your growing faith. If so, you can always take the advice of actress Mae West: “When in doubt, take a bath.”