The three of them were at the end of their endurance, but they ran on through the thickening trees. They hoped the woods had discouraged their pursuers. Dhanua, who was in the lead, was Malayali and roughly familiar with this part of India. But he did not know where they were now. As they came to the darkest part of the jungle, all three fell on their faces in exhaustion. Their pursuers would eventually find them if they were still on their trail. They heard later that one of their adversaries had been injured in their haste to catch them. The others had little choice, but to carry him back to their village.
Ihita, who had been in the rear, was first to recover. He tried to revive the others. Thomas, the foreign preacher, who was called an apostle, stirred but did not fully wake. Dhanua did not respond at all. The darkness was getting thicker. It would soon be night. They would need a fire for protection. He searched the woods until he found a small clearing with a large rock. Soon Thomas had revived enough to help gather stones into a circle where they could kindle a small fire. By the time they got the first embers to crackle with flames, Ihita staggered up. They still had a small meat pie purchased at a market the day before. Thomas had some nuts and Ihita had a mashed mango at the bottom of his satchel. They boiled water from a stream and made a hot drink.
They huddled around the flames and sang a hymn that a man in the church on the coast had written. With a simple tune, it spoke of the death and resurrection of Jesus. They each lifted a short prayer of thanksgiving before they cut the pie into three pieces, dividing the rest of the food between them. They would have to find food and clean water in the morning. But what they had was satisfying tonight. As they finished the meal, Thomas asked the others what they loved best about following Jesus.
Ihita said, “The love of God. I had never heard of such a thing until you came to us.”
Dhanua nodded and said he enjoyed sharing the love of Jesus with other believers. “We have not seen any since we left the coastal towns, but some may yet accept Christ on this trip.”
All three were silent for a moment, and then Dhanua said, “We love the peace we have when we travel with you, Thomas. We face hardships and losses. We often don’t know where our next meal will come from. We may soon be attacked by those who think we are their enemies. But when we have a moment to pray together, the peace of our Lord settles on us.”
Thomas said, “Jesus gave us His peace. And while our hearts don’t always understand it, we can rest in Him.”
Ihita said, “It comes from the Holy Spirit that you have taught us about.”
“That is true,” Thomas said. “The Spirit reminds us of God's grace even when things are difficult. By His Spirit, we know Jesus is with us.”
Ihita said, “We sense it best when we are actually with you, Thomas.”
“That is because I saw him after he rose from death. His life has been burned into my memory. To tell you the truth, I almost missed it. I am ashamed of my lack of faith on that first day after He rose. I was so horrified by His crucifixion that I did not want to see anyone. The other disciples gathered to comfort each other. Mary Magdalene had told them He had risen, but that was more than they could understand or believe until they saw Him themselves.
“They were hiding behind locked doors in fear of our own people who had arrested Jesus. Suddenly Jesus stood in their midst. His first words were, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His nail scarred hands and His side that had been pierced by the soldier’s spear. It was important for Him to show them that He was truly Jesus. They wept with joy that night. They sought me out the next day and told me with great enthusiasm that Jesus was alive. They had seen Him face to face. This was more than I was able to believe.
“I told them I would not believe unless I saw the nail prints in His hands. I stamped my foot. ‘Unless I put my own finger in the nail marks and thrust my hand into the gaping wound in His side I will never believe.’
“The other disciples kept me with them, even though I did not share their joy. They still loved me with the Master’s love. About a week later, we were all together when Jesus appeared as before. Again, he said, ‘Peace be with you.’ He turned to me and said, ‘Come here, Thomas. Do you see the nail prints in my hands? Come put your hand in my side. Don't be an unbeliever but believe.’ All I could say was, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus our Lord rose from the grave. We no longer need to fear anything. He pressed that on me so forcefully that the peace that I have is contagious.
“Jesus said to me, ‘Thomas, you believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ I knew that he was sending me to people who would only see Him through my eyes. He assured me of what he told the other disciples. ‘As my Father sent me, I am sending you.’ Great peace flows from following His purpose for our lives. We begin to see difficulties and opposition as merely efforts by the enemy to distract us from what Jesus has sent us to do.”
This story was based upon events recorded in the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John.
Lord Jesus, in these uncertain times we need the peace of your life and purpose in us.
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