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“...believe without seeing” - April 11, 2021

by Rev. Doug Martindale

John 20: 29

It is hard for us to have Thomas' direct experience because we have 2,000 years of history, beliefs and theology about his experience. We all have strongly held beliefs. Sometimes those beliefs get changed or even shattered because of direct experience. And that has certainly happened to me.

For example, I once thought that divorce was acceptable for other people although I had little empathy or compassion for people who went through divorce. I believed they should just get some counselling and resolve their problems. This belief affected my relationships and affected one friendship in particular. One of my classmates in theology was divorced and then had two more partners. Although I visited my family in Toronto and he lived there, I didn't look him up. In fact I avoided him. Then I became separated and divorced. My belief system went out the window. I gained a lot of empathy, compassion and humility for other people, including my friend from Emmanuel College in the 1970's. In my experience of humility I realized how pious and judgmental I had been. We visited once at his church in Toronto and then I lost touch. Through a mutual friend I tracked him down. About a month ago we had an hour long visit on Zoom and plan to continue doing so regularly.

What changed for me? I had a direct experience. Divorce was no longer something that happened to other people. It happened to me and it was incredibly painful. It totally changed how I saw it, based on my own direct experience.