John 20: 19-31
Many Christians might agree with me that the most famous hymn ever written is “Amazing Grace,” isn’t it?
“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Twas blind but now I see…”
This hymn describes the most profound reality. We are sinners who have been redeemed by God’s grace. In our Scripture passage today, we encounter Thomas, a disciple who was lost in confusion, hopelessness, and fear. Personally, I don’t like to call him Doubting Thomas. His doubts were reasonable. Until that morning, nobody knew the possibility of life after death. However, we can see by his words, that Thomas was starting to have a hard heart. He refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to his friends.
So, Thomas stayed away for a whole week, stuck and lost in his negative thinking. He may even felt depressed. Our Scripture reading tells us that a week later, Thomas rejoined the other disciples. This time Jesus found him there, where he was supposed to be. Thomas saw and experienced for himself the presence of the Risen Christ, and then proclaimed his faith, “My Lord and my God.” Right then, he turned into one of the most prominent heralds of our faith in the far east. He once was lost, but now he was found!
I also identify with the line in “Amazing Grace:” I was blind, but now I see. God reached out in His grace and found me when I was a young man. I became a priest and devoted my life to Him.
Unknown to me, however, God was going to use my time as a priest to bring me to Rosa, my wife. I knew that God was calling me to marry Rosa, but I did not understand how this could be. I became very confused and fell into a deep depression. I became so blind, living in a very dark cloud of fear, anxiety, and paranoia, all caused by my desire to leave the priesthood to marry my wife. But, God because of His amazing grace, found me in my desperation and led me back to Himself. I surrendered my life to Him.
Right then, I experienced an ecstasy when the Holy Spirit appeared to me like a dove in a beautiful starry night, and I heard God saying to me,
“I don’t condemn love, I want you free.”
At that moment, instantly, God delivered me from my guilt and depression.
I experienced a feeling of a great freedom and peace. Then, God’s divine touch enabled me to start my new journey, marrying my wife and to be back in ministry. I had to pass through this experience in order to return and surrender to God. I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing, at the place where I am now if God hadn’t intervened. God healed my false guilt. He healed my spiritual blindness, and enable me to see again.
There are two reasons why I share part of my testimony with you. The first is because not too long ago, God spoke to me in a dream telling me that I must tell my story. The second reason is because my testimony is related to Thomas’ experience with the Risen Christ. Both of us had to return to God. When we did, He enabled us to see a great reality that led us to believe in His presence and promises.
This is the message we all need to remember and share in this COVID-19 season. Indeed, this challenging season brings with it a cloud of unknown reality. It might be revealing our darker side. When that happens, remember to return to God, to welcome back the Holy Spirit into your life.
God will lead you to the light and enable you to see your reality as God sees it. Then, since we have received the amazing grace of God, we can walk in this light. This means that we have patience with our neighbor’s weaknesses. We care for our and others’ health and wellness by practicing social distancing.
We show kindness and gentleness with the elderly or a child in need. We serve others out of compassion, and whenever we do it, everyone around us is able to see God’s light. We are following Jesus, who says in Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” (Mt.5.16).
As we live as children of light, God will find the lost, bring the depressed out of their darkness, and shine light into the spiritual blindness that surrounds us. Praise God for His amazing grace! Amen.