I had forgotten that “Doubting Thomas” was a twin until I re-heard yesterday’s scripture lesson which is the usual passage following Easter Sunday. We don’t hear much about the disciple Thomas except that he was a twin. I’m assuming his twin was male considering the fact that females were often ignored in First Century Palestine. But of course, the twin could have been a fraternal sister. I’d never thought about it much until yesterday.
Did Thomas and his sibling share a fun twin language? Did the twin die young? Was the twin living in Galilee down the road? Was the twin a follower of Jesus?
There was a Newsweek cover story in 2011 with Princess Diana on the cover imagining what she would have looked like if she’d lived to the age of 50. This article made me crazy because 1. this was not news, and 2. We have no way of knowing what she would have looked like or been like. Why go there if you are a news magazine? Or any media outlet?
I could sit at my desk all day long and imagine what Thomas’ twin might have been like. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s not cosmically important to for us to know about the twin and – if it works this way – we can keep a long list of questions we’d like to ask God in the afterlife along with “who was behind the grassy knoll?”
If we need to know, we’ll know.
Human life includes unanswered questions:
- Why did my father have to die the week of my wedding?*
- What possible good could come from my husband dying when our baby was only six months old?
- Why did I survive the accident and my sister didn’t?
- Why didn’t I get into that college when I spent my entire life doing everything I was told to do to get in?
- Why didn’t he love me?
Sometimes, as time progresses, we can look back and see the hand of God and the reason why something happened or didn’t happen. And sometimes we never find out the why.
Can we be okay with never knowing?
Deep faith is more than relinquishing our lives and brains to an unseen God who directs us like helpless puppets. Deep faith involves trusting that we are seen and loved even when life feels random and meaningless. I don’t have the power to give someone faith. I can only point in that direction. I can be a storyteller sharing what I’ve noticed. I can be a tour guide pointing out interesting details that might have been overlooked.
It would be cool to know that Thomas had a sister with a successful sewing business or an olive farm. It would be interesting to know that Thomas had a twin brother who was a mapmaker or a boat builder. But we don’t know. We will probably never know.
Thomas and the remaining ten disciples experienced a deep unknown after Jesus was crucified – even after Jesus appeared to them again. It’s hard for us to get our heads around this because the story is so familiar. But it must have been terrifying.
The earth and all of us who dwell here are facing an unknown that will continue to alter our lives well into the coming months and years.
But we who live in hope believe that love will win. And we believe that – if we need to know – one day we will know.
*These are all questions I’ve literally been asked as a pastor. What we can’t understand can feel crushing. Sitting with each other in the unknown helps.