Any tragedy—great or small—forces us to acknowledge our humanity, and often that realization leaves us depressed or immobilized. But through difficulty or disaster, many turn to God; others turn on Him, blaming Him for the difficulty, accusing Him of failing to stop the tragedy, forgetting that while God loves us, He never promises to protect us from all evil.
Many, though, find in God strength, encouragement, and help. The upward look is the look of faith, and it focuses on God. It connects spiritually. As the writer of Hebrews put it: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
But you say, “I can’t see Him!” But you can, by faith! Faith sees what can be seen only by your soul. The classic passage in the New Testament that describes faith is Hebrews chapter 11. Here the writer talks about men and women who believed God in the face of great difficulties, and says, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13, ESV).
Faith means redirecting your gaze, your concentration, and your focus. It means getting your eyes off your trouble, the loss you have experienced, your pain and difficulty, and turning them upon the Lord, getting God into focus.
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. Hebrews 11:6
There are many things that faith does not know and actually cannot know. These are the dark questions that confront you in the night when you cannot sleep. Such as? Such as answers to five adverbs: Why? What? Where? When? and How? Those are the questions that arise from our old natures, the ones that have no answer to this side of heaven. In most cases, should God choose to answer them, we still could not really understand.
Faith knows one thing though. It is whom! And what does that mean? In prison for his faith, suffering at the hands of Romans, Paul wrote to a young man whose name was Timothy and said, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Sight rests upon something; faith rests upon Someone.
Many stumble through life dogged by bitterness, cynicism, and anger, feeling that God has forsaken them or doesn’t exist at all because they can’t understand why something happened. Faith doesn’t deny that evil is there, but it sees Him who is above and beyond the evil. Faith chooses to get on with your life and begin to strive to find a purpose in living that can come only through a spiritual framework.
Faith is the assurance that nothing is forever, that dawn follows the darkness, that someday you will understand the questions that plague you, that God hasn’t singled you out for special trials, and that in your pain and difficulty you can find God’s comfort and help.
Faith has eyes that penetrate the darkness with a spiritual night vision that sees the hand of the Almighty in a stronger outline than the hand of evil. It hopes in the final triumph of good over evil and believes in the face of unbelief. Finally, faith rests in the knowledge that God is good and puts into His strong hand what you can neither reverse nor change. It allows God to take the night shift and believes that when morning comes, He will be there to welcome you and to walk with you through the long day.
Resource reading: Hebrews 11:1-16