“Thomas told them, ‘I refuse to believe this unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my fingers into them, and put my hand into his side’”—John 20:25 (GW).
Are you a doubting Thomas? Maybe you’re a believer, but you doubt God could ever love someone like you. Maybe you’ve been ridiculed or bullied, struggling with your self-worth.
As a child, were you told you weren’t good enough? Did you become a performance addict with a need to prove you were likable, lovable and valuable? Do you know you’re not alone, today?
Pastor Chip Ingram says, “Many of us struggle with conceptualizing the enduring, sacrificial, infinite, and unconditional love of our heavenly Father. I think this is because we always try to put God’s love into our own human terms—and our terms always fall far short.
“Our human relationships have conditioned us to measure love by ‘ifs,’ ‘maybes,’ and ‘becauses,’” he adds. “‘I’ll love you if you do this.’ Or, ‘I love you because you did that.’”
As a “recovering” Type A personality, I struggled, believing I wasn’t good enough. I performed to others’ expectations, demanding more and more of myself. However, I was left empty after the initial euphoria of my accomplishments waned.
I was in my late 40s, when a simple prayer led me on my current path. I was lost. I cried out for God’s help. And, He answered.
Author Philip Yancey once said, “Grace does not depend on what we have done for God but rather what God has done for us. Ask people what they must do to get to heaven and most reply, ‘Be good.’ Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. All we must do is cry, ‘Help!’”
Even then, some of us still struggle to believe God’s unconditional love exists. Instead, we keep trying to earn His grace through good works. Others assume God only loves them when they’re reading so many chapters of the Bible each day or memorizing scripture. Too often, we have a “here’s my checklist—mark it off” approach to our relationship with God.
Author Christine Caine says, “I will never forget the freedom I felt when I finally stepped off the performance treadmill and reveled in God’s acceptance of me just as I was.
“When I stopped trying to make myself right with God through my own good works,” she adds, “I discovered His grace. I didn’t have to earn His acceptance. I didn’t have to live a perfect life.”
I can relate. Can you? But, like Christine, I’ve been changed by God’s grace—His amazing grace—that picks me up when I stumble and fall. I don’t have to be ashamed of my failures. God loves me just as I am.
When I embraced His love, it was easier for me to let go of the “need to please others” syndrome, the need for validation. I choose to please God through obedience because I love Him and He loves me, unconditionally.
If you’re a doubting Thomas, start looking for and reading scriptures about love. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Round is a transplanted Okie, originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and former Jay High School instructor, who now resides in Grove. In addition to writing a weekly faith-based column, “A Matter of Faith,” Round spends time with her grandchildren, shooting photos, hiking, working in her yard, reading and studying the Word, volunteering at her church and going on mission trips. For more information, or to contact Round, persons interested may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.