Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe. Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging; therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried. ~ Oswald Chambers from He Shall Glorify Me
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: ‘Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.’ Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. ~ Mark 10:13-16, MSG; cf. Matthew 18:1-6
It is so apparent today that, even though most individuals know that they cannot trust everything they see with their natural eyes, there are people who still recite the “seeing is believing” mantra, as if it were a settled truth. The main persons who reject the perceived truth of this mantra are primarily the genuine believers who know that SEEING is NOT the same thing as believing. These same believers also know that FAITH is NOT the same thing as believing, either. This truth about FAITH and SEEING not being the same as believing is also why faithful believers know that, where their sense of sight is concerned, “seeing is ONLY seeing.” Furthermore, for true believers, as far as their spiritual eyesight is concerned, it is their FAITH that is REAL seeing, because their FAITH allows them to see the whole invisible and spiritual world.
Put differently, their FAITH is the foundation on which all their hopes for their eternal existence are built. In essence, their FAITH causes them to grab hold of their eternal life RIGHT NOW, by treating that eternal life like it really is a present reality. Their FAITH, then, lets them know with certainty that even though their current circumstances do not reveal to their five senses, especially their sense of sight, that they already have obtained everything they hope for, their FAITH persuades them that in God they can enjoy those unseen realities NOW. For this reason, because their FAITH is about TRULY trusting in an invisible and eternal Father God to do for them what they don’t presently see happening in their lives, or in the lives of others, they are able to see their present life’s situations as being worthwhile and necessary.
What having Faith is all about is based on what Jesus the Christ teaches in the Scriptures about believers needing to have a childlike Faith, if they ever hope to enter into the Kingdom of God (cf. Mark 10:13-15; Matthew 18:1-6). Childlike Faith, thus, is the kind of Faith in which doubt, misery, uneasiness, loathing, and hypocrisy cannot be found. In other words, a childlike Faith is TRUST, HOPE, SIMPLICITY, LOVE, and GENUINENESS working together!
The following verse is the foremost Scripture on what FAITH teaches believers about the childlike FAITH the Lord Himself says believers must have. The Hebrews author writes:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s [believers’] handle on what [they] can’t see. ~ Hebrews 11:1, MSG; the inserted bracketed words are this blogger’s emphasis
Next, in James, the brother of Jesus maintains that believers’ unpleasant circumstances cause their childlike FAITH to be “…under pressure…” so that their childlike FAITH “…is forced into the open and shows its true colors” (James 1:3, MSG). Since childlike FAITH is the God kind of FAITH, then, according to James, this God kind of FAITH’S true colors are endurance, steadfastness, and patience.
Furthermore, these true colors are the reasons why real FAITH in God means that believers must go through seasons of testing (times when believers’ characteristics are closely examined) and seasons of allurement (times when people, philosophies, religious doctrines, lifestyles, seducing spirits, and so forth, are trying to lure believers into sin—are trying to tempt believers to abandon their desires to be obedient to and faithful doers of the Word of God). These seasons of testing and allurement, thus, prove whether believers’ childlike FAITH is or is not the kind of FAITH that produces godly endurance, steadfastness, and patience (characteristics of spiritual maturity).
The fact that God tests His believers’ childlike FAITH so that they could become spiritually mature is why James warns believers that they should not:
…try to get out of anything prematurely. Let [the testing of their faith] do its work so [believers can] become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. ~ James 1:4, MSG; the inserted bracketed words are this blogger’s emphasis
Now, there can be no doubt that the writers of Hebrews and James are fully aware that many people, including Christians, suffer from various kinds of rejections, imprisonments, sicknesses, and impoverishments. Equally true is the fact that the Lord’s awareness of these and other worldly troubles is the reason why He especially wants genuine Christians to know that, if they are trying to mask their pains, hardships, and setbacks with a grim-faced kind of endurance, steadfastness, or patience, then they need to know that God has given them a better way to deal with life’s trials and temptations than to express them with a stoical gesture.
God wants true believers to realize that Jesus the Christ’s power and authority in them will cause them to wear smiles from the time their pains, hardships, and setbacks start until these troubles are over. Faithful Christians smile, then, not because their sense of sight assures them that the hard times, personal injuries, and unspeakable tragedies that they see, or have seen, in their lifetime mean that their God is a powerless, negligent, unenlightened, and incompetent God. Nay, faithful Christians smile because they know that their God is indeed an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent sovereign God who is in total control. In other words, there is NOTHING that happens to any believer or unbeliever that God did not foreknow would happen and that God did not predetermine what His final outcome would be.
For these reasons, faithful Christians also smile because they know that God is taking them through their difficult times so that He can produce in them His endurance, steadfastness, and patience. What’s more, genuine believers smile because they know that when they patiently, gratefully, and joyously experience their trials and tribulations God will be faithful to keep His promises to protect, to provide, to deliver, and to heal.
Is it crucial for true believers to rejoice by letting the joy in their hearts show on their faces? Most definitely! Nothing will mean as much to their God, or the watching world, than to see the special joy true Christians’ smiles impart. Their smiles say that their FAITH in God absolutely means “seeing is not believing.” That is to say, this “seeing is not believing” truth means that to the natural persons there is no way that the trials and tribulations that they see believers going through will cause these natural individuals to believe in God. Indeed, these unbelievers think that the people who are experiencing pains, hardships, and setbacks should be frowning, possibly crying, but surely shaking their fists in their God’s Face. In other words, what unbelievers see are circumstances and situations that should suppress believers’ joy, not cause their joy to flourish.
In contrast, believers’ Faith sees these same pains, hardships, and setbacks as those troubles they can count worthy of their joyful responses. Their smiles, therefore, confirm that God is causing everything in their lives to work together for the “good” (cf. Romans 8:28), which is a “seeing” that not only the majority of unbelievers can’t believe but also a “seeing” that even many believers find hard to believe.
The bottom line is that only true believers’ FAITH trusts what the human eyes do not see, because their FAITH contains all the things hoped for—the whole invisible and spiritual world, which includes the eternal past, the eternal present, and the eternal future! Perhaps this last stated truth is the reason why the Apostle Paul describes believers’ childlike RIGHT-NOW Faith—the true source of their comfort and joy for their current afflictions—this way:
These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, MSG
Put differently, the Apostle Paul is saying that the effect of believers’ past, current, and future afflictions is to produce their eternal glory—their glorified bodies, which is their immortality, their eternal existence. This glorification for most, if not all believers, is the most important of God’s eternal-reward promises, and therefore it also is believers’ assurance of ALL the things they hope for and their proof of invisible and spiritual things that cannot be seen with the natural eyes.
Once again, as a result of believers’ childlike RIGHT-NOW FAITH, their eternal spirit and soul are able to see in this life what their physical eyes cannot see about the afterlife! More important, the above-mentioned heavenly glorification is the Divine Truth that feeds genuine believers’ childlike FAITH in God, causing them to smile with joy while they are surrounded by the unpleasantness of their earthly conditions—sadness, poverty, hunger, thirst, homelessness, barrenness, and so forth.
Are you able to smile during your disagreeable circumstances? When was the last time you smiled in the midst of your troubles? AMEN.