Not so secretly, thin streams of sweat slid down the back of the weary traveler. Light brown clouds billowed up from underneath his sandals as they slapped the chalky dirt. He was thankful for this new friend he had met in the town square who agreed to take him in for the night. Never had he been this tired. Hunger had come and gone a few miles back, but now he felt thirsty enough to drink a river.
Didymus felt sorry for the traveler when he spotted him sitting with his head propped in his hands. He didn’t hesitate to invite him home so he could wash up, eat a good meal, and get some rest before heading out again the next day.
As dinner lingered in their bellies, they sat back from the table to enjoy their wine and simply talk for a while. “How did you get the name Didymus?” the refreshed traveler asked.
Didymus smiled and slowly raised his eyes toward the ceiling as if recalling a fond memory. “Didymus means twin. I have a twin brother who looks exactly like me. Growing up no one could tell us apart so they called us both Didymus. I guess the name stuck with me, but now my brother is called Thomas. He doesn’t live here anymore. He became a disciple of Jesus the Messiah a few years back, and has gone to tell other people about Him. Do you know about Jesus?”
“Oh yes! I know Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead. He is my Lord and my Savior! I tell others about Him as often as I can.”
The two talked about their faith and all they knew about Jesus for quite a while. However, the stranger’s fascination with Didymus being a twin got the best of him. He absentmindedly reached across the table for a grape and popped it in his mouth as he pondered the idea of having a brother exactly like him. “So … since you look alike, does that mean you act and think alike?”
Didymus threw his head back and laughed so loud that it startled the sheep outside in the pen. “No! We are nothing alike! Never have been. Probably never will be. We used to butt heads like two young rams. Just know that I rarely think about things long enough to get upset. I take most people and circumstances at face value. Thinking that way helps me get things done so much faster than Thomas. He thinks about e-v-er-y-thing. He’s all about understanding the process. I’m all about finishing it. He focuses on why and all I want to know is when!”
The traveler asked, “You said you used to butt heads. What about now? Does he still frustrate you?”
Didymus threw a good-natured jab, “You think about things too, don’t you?”
“Maybe I do,” he countered. “But I guess I never really thought about thinking about things before.”
Both of them laughed and Didymus continued, “Thomas doesn’t either. It’s just the way he was made. It took us getting older to realize how valuable we are to each other. It’s our differences that make us both better.”
Didymus’ tone grew more serious, “Thomas used to travel around with his friend Matthew. The two of them once stopped here for a night. Matthew shared some things about my brother that I didn’t know. Now I understand him so much more than I did when we were younger.”
“So what did he tell you – if you don’t mind me asking?” probed the curious traveler.
“Matthew talked mostly about Thomas’ bravery. I never thought of Thomas as brave, but the story Matthew told changed my thinking. You see, after Jesus’ friend Lazarus became deathly ill, Jesus wanted to go to him even though it would put him great danger. The other disciples tried to stop Him, but it was my brother Thomas who stood up and said, ‘Let’s go too so we may die with him.’ Unquestionably, Thomas is brave and extremely loyal to those he loves. I wasn’t at all surprised when Matthew told me how unafraid he is when it comes to asking questions. Thomas has always asked questions! As Jesus tried to explain His death, He told His disciples, ‘I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.’ Most of them didn’t understand what He was talking about, but it was good ol’ Thomas who fearlessly asked, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?’ Thomas talked to Jesus like any other friend. I admire that about him. I really hate that after showing the amount of bravery Thomas had shown that he got stuck with a nickname that could have done him in.”
“A nickname?” the traveler repeated. “What nickname?”
Didymus explained, “Matthew revealed that after Jesus died Thomas became depressed. He did all the things depressed people do. He isolated himself, stopped reading the Scriptures, stopped singing, stayed inside, didn’t eat right, and doubted. He not only doubted who he’d become through his friendship with Jesus, but he also doubted Jesus’ resurrection power and His love for him. Jesus was gone, and Thomas felt abandoned and rejected. Since he was home alone, he missed getting to see Jesus in all His resurrection glory when He came to visit the disciples. After that encounter, they realized Thomas had been absent, so they ran to tell him that Jesus was alive and had come to see them. Thomas, at his lowest point, spoke words that revealed exactly how he felt, ones that have hung on him ever since. He said, ‘If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.’ So, what’s the nickname that got pasted onto him? Doubting Thomas.”
By now the traveler had hung on every word out of Didymus’ mouth. “I can’t believe after all Thomas had done and was willing to do that he became known for the doubt he felt at his lowest moment. I feel so bad for him.”
“Don’t feel bad. Even after hearing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, it took a week for Thomas to get his emotions under control, but he did! He finally understood that he needed to do the things he didn’t feel like doing so he could eventually want to do them again. He went back to the Scriptures, sang a new song, admitted his negative emotions, turned his thoughts toward all the promises Jesus had fulfilled, rejoiced over His resurrection, and reconnected with his friends. That’s when Jesus showed up again and let Thomas put his finger into the nail prints and his hand in His side. Matthew told me it was at that moment when Thomas realized that his season of doubt would never cause him to feel shame. Rather, it would be the scar that testifies to the resurrection power that now lives inside of him! His life has been transformed!”
With a mighty fist pump, the traveler shouted at a sheep-startling volume, “A – men!”
This story is a fictional account (based on Scripture) of a conversation that could have taken place. Depression is not fictional. If you or someone you know has a hard time climbing out of it, please seek Christian counseling. Allow a counselor to teach you how to turn tender wounds into healed scars so that you can sing a new song of praise to our God. Your example of bravery will help many others put their trust in the Lord! (Psalm 40:3)
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”John 15:9-11, CSB, emphasis mine