Faith in What is not Seen

We live in a world that loves to see to believe. We believe only if we can see, feel, touch, and experience. We need something tangible. We need to have reasons for our findings, and data that can back up those reasons. Like Thomas, we demand to see the nail marked hands and the speared side of Jesus before we will budge from our unbelief. Yet, Jesus says those who have believed despite not seeing are the ones who are truly blessed. Because ultimately on this side of heaven, faith is not seen, but it is the hope that we hope in.

This season of life has been upending for a lot of us. We feel as though the rug of comfort, stability, and security, has been pulled out from under our unsuspecting feet, and a lot of us are reeling. We’re struggling with the sudden loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of our freedoms, and the uncertainty of the once so certain future. And yet in spite of all this, in spite of all the turn over and turmoil, God remains the same. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is us that have forgotten truly that faith is not guaranteed continuous sight, but hope in the faithfulness and promises of God, even when we cannot see them. Last night the Lord provided me with a really good example of what this looks like.

Before bed each night, I make sure that our front door is locked, and then I take out my contacts. But even after I take out my contacts, I still want to (in my anxiety and fear) go back to the door that I have locked to check and see if it’s locked, and sure enough it is. Why is that? Because even though I know in my mind that I have locked the door, once I take my contacts out, from a certain distance, I cannot see that the door is locked, and so it produces anxiety. And so I return to the door, many times, before I finally believe that the door is locked in spite of me being able to see at a certain distance whether it actually is or not.

I think this example portrays many times how we approach faith. We believe that Jesus is good and faithful as long as we can see Him working. As long as we can see Him moving in us, and protecting us, and keeping us, then we rest easy that He is with us. Our struggle with faith comes when we cannot really see what He’s doing, like during this pandemic. We begin in these times to question the goodnes and faithfulness of God when we cannot truly see Him in action. Like many of us, even though we believe faith is there, and we can see a blurry outline of it, we begin to question the hope that we have when faith is not as clear as it once was.

I love the Apostle Paul’s declaration here in Romans 8:18-24 of God’s faithfulness, in spite of his inability to see it clearly:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

I love Paul’s confidence here in the unfailing faithfulness and goodness of God. Though he and other’s are experiencing sufferings, these sufferings are temporal, and not only that, but also these aren’t worth comparing to what is coming. He says we’ve only been given the firstftruits, a taste, of what is to come, and we’re groaning for that day when all will be made right. So what do we do in this already but not yet period of redemption? We hope in what we do not see, believing in the faithfulness of God, believing in the love of God, believing in the truth of the Father, and we wait eagerly with patience for our full redemption.

Paul writes in another Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Here is the good news in the midst of the uncertainty of the times that we face. While we do not see Christ fully now, we will one day. Our view of Christ that is dimmed now, as if we are looking through a miror, will be fully clear. So we rejoice in the fact that God has graciously revealed Himself to us, even just in part, and we have faith in the hope of what we have truly hoped in. Even in the times when we cannot see that hope clearly, we continue to hold onto that hope and faith with patient endurance knowing that our sufferings here on earth are finite, and that one day, if we are in Christ, we will see Him, and know Him fully, even as we are now fully known by Him.

Jesus says in John 20:29 in responce to Thomas “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I don’t know where you are in this season of life. What hurts, disappointments, tensions, and struggles you are facing. But know this. If you are in Christ, what you see now, if only dimly, is enough to carry you to the end. Hold onto to that hope, and don’t let your own blurry vision or dimness diminish the hope that you have in Christ. Right now, we only see in part, but one day, we will see in full. I pray that you will hold onto that hope, and that the hope of the gospel and faithfulness of Christ will carry you throughout your entire life joyfully, humbly, and graciously, leading others to experience these same things along the way.

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Blessings.

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