Today's message is based on John 20:19-29

"Peace be with you" and have a "blessed" day

So, do you ever worry about things in your life?
Dumb question, huh.   We all do from time to time.
But some of us worry more than others and worry more often than we should.
A little bit of anxiety can be helpful to keep us on our toes and focused.
But regular and/or consistent worry about things is not good for us at all.

It’s estimated that at least 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
Anywhere from 20 - 40% of the population is said to be afflicted with this.
It is the most common of all mental afflictions that we are plagued with.
It can cause us to fall into depression and exacerbate illness or physical ailments.

While it can sometimes be hereditary, it also develops from life in general.
Stress can build from work, school, marriage or relationships, and past trauma.
Money and our worry over it can also produce stress related anxiety.
And if we have an existing illness, anxiety or worry about that can make it worse.

Stress and anxiety revolve around the fear of not knowing what will happen.
We don’t know what will happen in social situations and in job evaluations.
We don’t know what will happen in school examinations and with family relations.
We don’t know what will happen with financial matters and so…..we worry.

Unfortunately, only about one in three people go and get treatment for anxiety.
That means most struggle through it, doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
It’s a tough burden to carry and probably causes us to die sooner than normal.

But there is something besides medication that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
There is something besides counseling and therapy that can lessen our worries.
There is something that, sadly, most people don’t employ enough, though it is free.
That something is called ‘faith’.

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear of the resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples.
But one of them;… Thomas,… was not there the first time they saw him.
So when they tell Thomas this miraculous event, he expresses skepticism and doubt.
He says he needs proof in order to believe and faithfully accept what they say.

Then, the next time Jesus appears, Thomas is there and Jesus calls him out on it.
He tells him “Put your fingers here and see my hands” indicating where the nails were.
He adds “Reach out your hand and put it in my side” to where the spear pierced him.
It’s then….and only then….. that Thomas now believes what the others had told him.

But Jesus makes this comment that is not just directed towards ‘doubting Thomas’.
His words are a general statement that is more for all the rest of us.
He says ‘You believed because you have proof’ but “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”.
In other words, he says blessed are those who don’t have proof or evidence but who live by faith and trust.

An important part of understanding this comment is to focus on the word “blessed”.
‘Blessed’ or ‘bless-ed’ can mean that God has graced us with something good.
Like when a positive thing comes our way, we say that ‘we have been blessed’.
But the word ‘blessed’ also means, very specifically,….. ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’.

The translation of the Greek word written here in John’s Gospel, is the same Greek word that Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount when he used the word “blessed”. 
It means to be happy, which in turn also means to not be worried or fearing things.
To be “blessed” means to be free of the fears of the unknown that can plague us.

So confidence to not worry or have anxiety over the future can help bring happiness.
And that kind of confidence is rooted in something stronger than our own abilities.
That kind of confidence is grounded in more than just assessing odds or chances.
That kind of confidence overcomes the uncertainty of what will happen,….. can only be derived from ‘faith’.

Faith in a God who is much more powerful than us, even when we’re at out best.
Faith in a God who controls the future and destiny of our lives and the world.
Faith in a God who we trust to do what’s best for us in the long run.
Faith in a God who has proven his power and goodness with the resurrection.

When we have stronger faith, our confidence can overwhelm our anxieties and worries.
When we have stronger faith, we can be the happier people God intended us to be.
When we have stronger faith, our stress levels go down and our happiness goes up.
So….the message today is….have a little faith, baby.

This resurrection we often talk about, especially this time of year, wasn’t just for Jesus.
It’s for us as well.
And, as I said last week, it is not just about when we die but for everyday life.
It’s a precursor to what God does all the time with bad, or potentially, bad things in life.
Making things right, fixing what is wrong, protecting us from harm,….is all part of it.
So,…have a little faith, baby

All we need to do is believe the truth and the proof is in that resurrection.
Trust that the God who loves us will take care of us so we don’t have to worry.
Have a more faith that the God who assured Jesus’ future, will also take care of ours.
It’s really what Jesus talked about all the time when he was ministering to the people.
Because he wanted them to be happy and not worried and full of stress.
That’s why Jesus kept saying to people,… have a little faith, baby.

So the simple prescription for a happier life is this - ‘Have a little faith, baby.
Faith in the God,…..yours and my God,…..who is the God of the resurrection.

Amen