For Sihanoukville, Cambodia, prison ministry – April 21, 2012
(Revised for Life University – May 10, 2012)
During my senior year of college, my journalism advisor came to me one spring and told me about a conference she wanted me to attend. The conference was in Los Angeles, California.
At that time, I was a single mother, working three jobs, and attending college full time. Los Angeles seemed about as far away to me as Cambodia. I told her no way.
A few days later, she came to me again to inform me she had found a scholarship that would pay my way to the conference. My eyes lit up until she said, “The application is due tomorrow.”
I needed to fill out the application, plus other paperwork, provide three letters of reference and write an essay about why I deserved the scholarship. Again, I said no way.
She said, “I will help you.” And we went to work.
It took us all day and a good part of the night to finish the application, but we got it in.
A few days later, she came to me and said she had received an e-mail from someone on the scholarship committee.
“You won!” she said.
I told her that sounded exciting, but I wouldn’t believe it until I had an official award letter in my hand. About a week later, the letter came. I had won.
How could a small-town girl attending a rural northwest Oklahoma college possibly have won a scholarship available to every journalism student across the United States? I could hardly believe what I was reading, but I had the letter in my hands to prove it.
Doubt is a powerful emotion. As humans, it is natural for us to ask for proof to disprove our doubts. Jesus always is willing to go out of his way to prove his love for us.
When the disciples told Thomas they had seen Jesus, alive and well after his crucifixion, Thomas said he would not believe it until he saw the nail marks in Jesus’ hands with his own eyes.
Jesus didn’t write off Thomas as an unbeliever. Instead, he jumped through locked doors inside a room filled with disciples and proclaimed, “Peace be with you!”
Can you imagine the looks on the disciples’ faces?
Jesus then not only showed Thomas his hands, but he told him to put his finger in the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and to touch the scars on the side of his body (John 20:26).
Jesus loved Thomas so much, and he wanted Thomas to believe in him so much, that he jumped through locked doors to give Thomas physical proof that he lived.
In Mark 9:17-20, we read about the man who asked Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son.
The man said to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us (Mark 9:22 NIV).”
I imagine Jesus turning to the man with a bewildered look on his face, shaking his head, and saying, “IF I can do anything? IF I can do anything! Everything is possible for him who believes!”
The man then begged Jesus, “Help me overcome my unbelief!”
And Jesus did just that. He healed the boy, not only in front of the father, but in front of an entire crowd of people.
Jesus performed many miracles in front of crowds. Can you imagine, then, how frustrated he must have been with the people and even his disciples who still doubted him?
There he was, healing the sick, making the blind see, casting out demons, and the people right there with him still doubted him! Even some his best friends doubted him.
Mary and Martha loved Jesus possibly more than anyone in the Bible. But when their brother Lazarus died, and Jesus waited four days before arriving in Bethany, both the sisters said to Jesus, “If you would have been here, our brother would not have died.”
The thought never occurred to either of them that Jesus could make Lazarus walk again, not just in heaven, as both Mary and Martha already had accepted, but on earth … that very day!
Jesus wept because of their doubt. It broke his heart. He did not, however, walk away bitter and frustrated. He proved his love for them in front of a crowd of people by raising Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus proves his love for us in the same way. No matter how much we doubt him, no matter how much we disappoint him, no matter how much we break his heart, he never, ever, ever walks away from us.
He will jump through locked doors to prove his love for us. He will fight off demons to prove his love for us. He will show us favor in a small Midwestern college to prove his love for us.
He will die for us to prove his love for us.
Lord Jesus, thank you for proving your love for us each and every day. Thank you for hanging on a cross, for never forsaking us, for loving us through our doubt. In your precious, faithful name I pray. Amen.