There is a great little cross made of stones that hangs in the hallway of the Deanery. It carries an inscription that says: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2nd Corinthians 5:7). Every time I think of Thomas and the missed encounter with Jesus in that upper room and then to have him come for Thomas and challenge him to have hope at least, that what he is hearing from others is true I cannot help but wonder when I am face to face with the Lord Jesus, what will happen.
There have been lots of little encounters with Jesus over the years, some more memorable than maybe others were. But there is one that comes to mind that I feel compared to share. It’s about the night my dad died and an encounter with God that has remained with me from that night until now. Maybe it is because I was recently told that a friend has the same cancer my dad did and hearing what is going on brings back these memories.
Specifically, I was with my dad, in his hospital room the night he died. We had been watching some American political show and there was a moment when I turned to him and said that I wished that he was well enough to have just one more political debate with me. As I watched my father, he took a few shallow breaths and then became very still. In shock and disbelief, I rang the buzzer to call in the nurse that was caring for dad (“Bronco Brenda” dad called her) to check on him. Having been with so many others when their time came, I knew that I knew what the determination was going to be. Sure enough, the pain and suffering were over. In that moment, dad died and passing from this life into the care and comfort of the God he has spent my lifetime teaching me about.
My sister came to spend a few minutes with dad, to say a farewell, I said some final prayers and then we departed because the hour was late and the road was darker than usual. I wanted to get back to my mom. When I got into my dad’s van, I sat for a moment to collect myself, preparing to drive back out to the house. So I turned on the radio. The radio was on a secular station but suddenly there was a Christian worship song “I can only imagine” playing. It was written by a young man that had lost his father to cancer just before I did. It was all about what he thought his dad’s first encounter with Jesus and what that must have been like. It is what I think of now as the “Thomas moment”, where faith is lost in sight and there is no denying it and all one can do is respond, “My Lord and my God”.
I was reminded in that moment grief and sorrow that I was not alone. I was drawn into that moment and shown that we (dad and I) were in the presence of living Christ and because he loved us, we would not be alone nor abandoned. That is the hope that Jesus called on Thomas to have. It is the hope and the faith that Christ gives to you and to me in this Easter season. We can lean on each other and we can help each other to be aware of Christ in our midst. Even when things have been hard and hope is flagging. We remind each other that we continue to walk as yet by faith and in hope, knowing that one day faith will be lost in sight. One day those tears that have been shed with be wiped away for the last time by those same hands that took the nails for us. Hallelujah!