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Comforting Presence

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:37-39 Most Christians do not realize that Thomas was not the only disciple who doubted the resurrection of Jesus. After Mary and the other women came back from the tomb and told the Eleven and all the others that Jesus had risen, “they did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11). Further down that same chapter, Jesus revealed himself to two of the disciples who were traveling on the Road to Emmaus. They did not recognize Jesus. And when the Savior told them who he was, they were scared because they thought he was a ghost. Unfortunately, Thomas is the only who gets the bad rap for doubting the resurrection, though all the disciples doubted as well. My point is that being a person of faith does not mean we will not struggle with doubts. Some things will always seem too far-fetched for us to take at face value. For as long as we are in the flesh, we will struggle with unbelief. That is why I like the response of the father who cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! Like that father, we often find ourselves between the boulevard of faith and the crossroad of unbelief. What is evident is that it does not matter how often God has delivered us and what miracle he has performed on our behalf, we often struggle with unbelief. That struggle never ends no matter our level of spiritual maturity. What changes are our ability to move beyond it quicker and our willingness to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not unto our own understanding while we are expecting him to move. Faith is as much a mental exercise as it is a spiritual application. The mind should process faith before the eyes of the soul can visualize the outcome of that faith. That is one of the reasons the enemy attacks the mind more so than anything else. Our prayer and focus should be that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds so that the seed of faith that has been planted in it when we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will produce fruits of the Spirit. In today’s text, the two men were frightened by the appearance of the resurrected Jesus because they really did not believe in the resurrection. These were two disciples who probably saw Jesus raised Lazarus from death. They undoubtedly knew that he fed 5000 with two fish and five loaves of bread. It would be highly unlikely that they did not know about Jesus turning water into wine or knew about the healing of the blind and the lame. Yet, they failed their initial test of faith and allowed fear to overwhelm their mind. How often have you and I failed our test of faith? Indeed, we seldom look at our circumstance from the perspective of what God has done and can do. Instead, our perspective is clouded by what the world is doing and saying. And sometimes we get stuck between faith and unbelief because we give more credence to what we see in the world than to what we believe God can do. The experience on the Road to Emmaus represents a spiritual journey from spiritual setback to spiritual restoration. Indeed, the crucifixion of Jesus was a significant setback for the disciples that were hoping that Jesus would establish a messianic kingdom on earth. But the Road of Emmaus conversation with Jesus renewed their trust in the person of Jesus and strengthened their resolve to spread the gospel at any cost. Jesus appeared to these two men because he knew about their faith struggle. God often shows up when we are experiencing our worst faith crisis. He does not judge or condemn us for doubting him because his strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Prayer- Blessed Lord, we thank you for your unfailing presence that upholds us when our faith grows weak.

Rev. Dr. D. Joseph

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