2 Corinthians 5:7
We live by faith, not by sight.
As I was walking to my office the other day, I reflected upon “seeing God” in the world around me. For a period of time, I had been very intentional about looking for God connections through the things that I observed as I walked along. What struck me the other day was that my daily trips through our community had become routine and I had stopped actively looking for God.
Many people have a hard time “seeing God” in the normal routine of their lives. With no intention to do so, a person can walk through daily life as if God were not present. It is not that a person is denying the existence of God, but they do not recognize that God is walking with them. For many people, their life during the week is completely separate from their faith. They do not see the connection; therefore, they do not see God’s hand at work.
As a pastor, I have often struggled with an inability to see any tangible results from my labors. Ministry becomes routine and loses its life and vitality. I want to know that I am making a genuine difference, but I cannot see it. There are so few tangible indicators that show me that what I am doing really matters. Then God will do something to open my eyes, and for a brief moment He lets me see.
The other day, I had coffee with a missionary couple. They were sharing their story about how God had led them to the place where they were serving. Some of the things they said resonated with my own experience. When they asked me to share my story, I began to recount my ministry experience. As I reflected upon my own faith journey, I could see how God had used me in the past. I found myself getting excited as I recounted some of the highlights of my walk with God. What God was communicating to me was that, even if I could not see the value of what I was doing right now, He was still actively at work using me for His glory.
As humans, we are tangible creatures. What is real to us is what we can see, touch, taste, hear. The spiritual realm often seems unreal to us because it is not tangible. It can seem irrelevant to the life we live day by day. But we are wrong, for we have been called to live by faith, not by sight.
After Jesus resurrected from the dead, He appeared to the disciples in the upper room. They were overwhelmed by His presence and had a difficult time believing their very eyes. Unfortunately, Thomas, one of the disciples, was not present on that occasion. When the other disciples recounted their experience to Thomas, he was skeptical and resistant. He stated that he needed tangible proof to believe. Like us, Thomas wanted to guard himself against further disappointment and emotional pain.
A week later, the disciples were all together again in the upper room. This time Thomas was also there. Just as before, Jesus appeared to them in tangible form. He specifically approached Thomas and offered him the tangible proof that he demanded. Thomas was overwhelmed and fell down before Jesus and worshiped Him. Jesus responded to Thomas with words that should challenge and encourage all of us who have put our faith in Him. Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
Jesus was talking about us. He said that we would be even more greatly blessed because we believed in Him without tangibly seeing Him. Peter picked up on this when he wrote his first letter to the believers scattered throughout the Roman world. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)
Someday, we will see Jesus face to face, but until then we have been called to live by faith. Throughout our life journey there will be glimpses of God, as Paul said, like the distorted image in an imperfect mirror. These glimpses are given to us to strengthen our faith and keep us going. They also are given to us to remind us that our faith is in God and not in our experience. Throughout the ages, God’s promise to His people has always been the same. “I will be with you always.” In the routine of life, when our spiritual vision is dull, we can hang onto that promise. Whether we “see” God or not, He is always there. As followers of Jesus, we are called to walk by faith, not by sight.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.