There are plenty of scary sights out there, but the real fear that most people have is to be found in the things that they can’t see – things they know that are out there, but things that are still around the corner, in the dark, or worse yet, invisible!
For the Christian, this is the essence of living by faith. As we are told, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) These unseen things may constitute judgments we wish to avoid (Heb. 11:7) or hopes we wish to embrace, such as the return of our Saviour (I Pet. 1:8). The Christian knows that “the things that are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18) and require much patience on our part today (Rom. 8:24-25). But is this our only recourse? To sit around and wait, trusting God for whatever unseen things may pop up today – or ten years down the road?
In Job 34:32, Elihu made an interesting request of God. He asked, “That which I see not teach thou me.” Exercising faith is a great thing; but sometimes we forget that there are additional helps that God offers us that we can fail to take advantage of. If you have to move a pile of gravel and God makes available a shovel and a wheelbarrow, well Praise the Lord! But if you could have had a backhoe and dump truck if you had only asked, you would probably feel a bit foolish and frustrated. Asking God to teach you and show you those things you can’t see may make all the difference in the world.
1) When you can’t see the problem. How many times do we have a problem or trial and don’t realize that there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed before we can find relief. The Corinthians were getting sick and dying while not seeing that the problem was their abuse of the Lord’s table. After three years of famine, David finally enquired after the Lord to find out if there was a cause – what he did not see was that the Gibeonites had been mistreated by the house of Saul and until that issue was dealt with, there would be no rain or crops. Is there some untreated sin in your life? Some habit giving you grief that you did not notice was wrong? Some enemy in your life cutting your legs out from under you that you were unaware of? Ask the Lord to teach you about those things you see not.
2) When you can’t see the solution. When trials seem insurmountable and no solution is in sight, despair can quickly take over. Why not just ask God to show you the solution that you can not yet see? When the thirsty Jews came to the waters of Marah, despair boiled over when it was discovered that the bitter waters were undrinkable. Despair, frustration, and anger were everywhere. When Moses called out to God for help, then “the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” (Ex 15:25) Rather than moaning and complaining about the problem, how about asking God to teach you about the solution that you may not yet see?
3) When you can’t see the big picture. For a lost man or woman, especially one raised on the fairytale of evolution, life seems purposeless. All of the trials and struggles of life lead no where. Could they really be just the byproduct of random chance and fate? All too often Christians lose sight of the fact that our loving Father has a rhyme and reason to every nuance of our day – that there is a “big picture” to God’s perfect will that is unfolding day by day in our lives. We often can not see that “forest” because of all the trees we face daily. When Paul found himself in prison after his ill-fated trip to Jerusalem, he was clearly discouraged – a seemingly purposeless predicament that must have been frustrating for a missionary who desired to be out in the highways and byways telling people about Christ. Although there is no record of Paul making a request, God saw fit to teach Paul about the big picture he could not see in Acts 23:11. He discovered that the purpose of his prison visit was to open a door for the gospel in Rome! Why not ask God to teach you about the big picture you can not see?
Until Jesus returns and faith is turned to sight, there will always be things we can not see. God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path, but without the help of his Spirit the Bible can at times be only a glass we see through darkly. Faith is vital in this situation – but it is not the only tool in the arsenal for the unseen. God wants to show and teach us many things about that which we can not see – how about asking him and then allowing the great Teacher to do his work!