Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”—John 20:29
One day as I was returning from a prayer walk, I ran into an erudite neighbor—a longtime missionary—and we began to talk about a particularly vexing issue that was on my heart. I put on my Mr. Spock hat and spelled out for him what I saw as the logical outcome to the situation as he rubbed his chin in contemplation.
“We as Christians live in two worlds,” he began, “the probable and the spiritual. We live as if everything were in the probable, but we pray in the spiritual.” He paused briefly, as if to give me a moment to digest that truth.
“What we fail to recognize is that God is over both. He is in control of the probable as well as the spiritual.” He later reminded me of the following truth:
For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.—Colossians 1:16-17
His words, and God’s words, opened my eyes to the disconnect in the average Christian’s life—in my life. I pray for one thing but live in anticipation of another. Perhaps you do too. This, my friends, is not faith.
Enduring the Silence
Because we live in the physical realm, with our eyes blinded to the greater spiritual realities all around us, we are often unable to process what seems like God’s silence. An angel gave the prophet Daniel a lesson in why our prayers may not be answered quickly.
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me 21 days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”—Daniel 10:12-13
In the world of the probable, Daniel had no cause for hope. But Daniel’s prayers eventually prevailed over the powers and principalities that represented his spiritual adversary.
I’ve found myself longing to see the spiritual realities around me, but could I really bear it, or would I find myself sucking my thumb and clinging to a blanket in the corner of my room for the next 20 years out of post-traumatic stress? I am reminded of a frightening biblical scene in which the king of Aram cornered the prophet Elisha in retaliation for spoiling his attack plans, sending Elisha’s servant into a panic.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.—2 Kings 6:15-17
I’m pretty sure I would have needed a Depends in that moment. But this scene and the scene from Daniel remind us that greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). God has not forsaken us; He is in the midst of our battles and is fighting for our good. We don’t see it. Perhaps we should be thankful we don’t, for the spiritual battle would be a terrifying one, though a comforting one, to behold.
Persevering in the Unendurable
We’ve known people who endured what seemed to be an unendurable situation. In the probable, there is no hope. With God, there is all hope. In Him they found an illogical source of strength, peace and even joy where it would seem there is no room for any of that. I marveled at their ability to persevere, but why should I? It is He, not they themselves, who propelled them forward.
When we are facing the probable, we must remember we are blessed for fixing our eyes on the spiritual—the Jesus over and in all things—because blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. And you’d better believe that’s true.