We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (God’s Word Translation)
More frequently than I care to admit I am perplexed at how persistent unbelief is in my life. One would think that a person after 40 plus years of seeing God’s faithfulness would have this believing God thing down. But annoyingly there are still things that come along that have a way of derailing me from the track of faith.
Recently I was talking to a spiritual mentor about this. He is a person more than a decade older than myself whose life has been an inspiration of faith, particularly in the area of faith for finances. If I were to compare his exploits of faith to mine I could easily end up feeling like a doubting Thomas. I was surprised to hear him tell me that there are yet times when he finds himself struggling to believe God in the very realm he has experienced his greatest triumphs, the realm of finances. As we compared notes we discovered that each of us has our own respective and recurring Achilles heels of doubt and unbelief. That fact certainly frames the question – why is it so difficult to believe God?
For simplicities sake it might be said that there are two worlds in which we live, the world of reality and the world of perceived reality. To a believer in God these two worlds correlate with the spiritual world and the natural world. The spiritual world is the real reality. The natural world is a perceived reality. In the spiritual world God lives, rules and unfurls His eternal plans based on His unchanging nature and promises. It is a world that is unseen, and yet it is the world from which the natural world, the world in which we live and the world we can see, derives its origins and takes its cues. (Genesis 1:1)
The problem with living in the natural world of perceived reality is that perceptions often deceive us. What we think we see is not reality, and yet perception defines our reality, and so we act accordingly. How many times have you been waiting impatiently for something to happen, concluded it would not and therefore acted in a way you later regretted? The truth was that it was just about to happen but your limited perception deceived you.
Faith and our believing God is based on what is happening and proceeding from the unseen spiritual world. Faith we are told is the “evidence of things not yet seen.” (Hebrews 11:6) Its presence or absence derives wholly upon which world, the natural or the spiritual, to which we look and depend upon to define our reality. Where we look and what we look for makes all the difference when it comes to believing God.
Paul writes “We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
At times then, why is it so difficult to believe God? As residents of the natural world it is only natural to limit ourselves and God, by our distorted perception of reality here. And the truth is even the most spiritual man or woman among us can only see and know the spiritual world in part. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
In the end, my friend and I concluded that as long as we live in these earthy tents, trodding through this tear-stained world we will face struggles to believe. But in the struggles there is a beckoning, an invitation by God to lift our eyes toward heaven and gaze even more intently to that realm which is unseen and eternal, to Him from whom our faith comes.
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