How to Believe in What You Can’t See
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 25 Aug
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jeff Lucas’ new book Faith in the Fog: Believing in What You Cannot See (Zondervan, 2014).
Living by faith in this fallen world can sometimes be like walking through a fog, where you can’t see where you’re going. You want to believe that God is with you on your journey, but you can’t seem to find him while challenges such as sadness, shame, doubts, and confusion obscure your vision.
Jesus Christ shared breakfast on a beach with his disciples after his resurrection, and the story of that morning reveals that God sometimes shows up in unexpected ways – breaking through the fog of ordinary life with surprising insights. Studying that story can help you believe in what you can’t see. Here’s how:
Acknowledge the fog around you. Just as Jesus’ disciples were caught up in a fog of grief (after his death on the cross), you, too, will always be struggling with some kind of fog surrounding you because the sin in this world obscures the way God originally intended it to be. Face the reality of the fog around you, and be honest with God about it. Admit the reality of your situation if you’re: struggling with sorrow about unanswered prayers, confused about something you’d like to believe but have doubts, discouraged by shame you feel because of your mistakes, exhausted from trying to reach a goal that keeps eluding you, or wanting to skip church because of the difficult people there. Once you face the fog, you can start the process of breaking through it.
Look for God in the fog. Jesus was right there on the shore when the disciples looked over there from their fishing boat – but at first, they didn’t recognize him. God has promised to be with you always, so choose to trust his promise, even when you can’t sense the reality of his presence with you. Keep in mind that the Bible says while we’re living in this fallen world, our perception of God is like a reflection in a mirror, but when we get to heaven we’ll be able to see him face to face. You may experience some dramatic encounters with God’s Spirit on Earth from time to time, but most often you’ll find God’s faithful presence in the ordinary moments of your life – from enjoying a walk in nature to playing with your children – and the more you look for God, the more you’ll start to notice him.
Accept God’s unconditional love for you. Despite their hard work fishing, the disciples hadn’t caught any fish to offer Jesus as food for the breakfast meal they shared that morning. But once Jesus helped them, they caught so many fish that their nets were straining from being full. Jesus is willing to meet you wherever you are and help you move forward from there. Don’t worry about coming to Jesus empty-handed, since he loves you unconditionally. He knows all about your weaknesses and failures, yet loves you completely anyway. Accept that love by inviting him to fill the empty places in your soul with his great love.
Keep going even when you feel like giving up. The disciples chose to cast their fishing nets into the Sea of Galilee one more time because Jesus asked them to – even though they were discouraged from having failed to catch anything through their previous efforts. Then, they experienced incredible success. No matter how discouraged you become, decide to keep living faithfully (such as showing up at church to worship God, volunteering to serve others, caring for difficult people, and praying with endurance) and God will eventually give you a breakthrough.
Accept God’s forgiveness for your sins. At breakfast, Jesus reminded his disciple Peter that he had denied knowing Jesus prior to the Crucifixion, but then forgave Peter for his sin. God won’t minimize, excuse, or overlook your sins, but he will forgive them if you confess them and repent by turning away from them. Break free of shame by accepting God’s forgiveness and moving forward in his grace.
Take care of yourself by nourishing your body, mind, and spirit together. Rather than serving only spiritual nourishment, Jesus served physical food and gave new mental insights to the disciples that morning on the beach. While it’s vital to take care of yourself spiritually, it’s just as important to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. So eat a healthy diet, drink enough water, get the sleep and exercise that you need, and prioritize time for investing in friendships and enjoying fun and relaxing activities.
Face the uncomfortable parts of life. Jesus’ conversation with the disciples during breakfast implied that their futures would include some suffering and mystery that would make them uncomfortable. Faith doesn’t make anyone impervious to going through tough times or circumstances that don’t make sense to human understanding. Choose to trust God with your future, no matter what, since he has good purposes planned for your life.
Devote yourself wholeheartedly to Jesus. The famous question that Jesus asked Peter during this resurrection appearance was: “Do you love me?” Jesus wanted to know how much Peter truly loved him – how committed Peter really was to making a relationship with Jesus his top priority. Jesus is asking the same of you. Show Jesus how much you love him by centering your life around your relationship with him. Once Peter devoted himself wholeheartedly to following Jesus again, Jesus reinstated him to leadership. Jesus will work through your life in powerful ways after you devote yourself to him.
Let suffering strengthen your faith and courage. Jesus warned Peter that he would die as a martyr for his faith, but when that happened years later, God brought good purposes out of Peter’s suffering. Be confident that when God allows you to go through suffering (from illness to unemployment), he will redeem your ordeal by using it to accomplish good purposes when you trust him. Decide to follow Jesus as Peter did, not turning back but moving forward with confidence that God will do what’s best through your life.
Focus on following Jesus wherever he leads you. Peter asked Jesus what would happen to another disciple, John, and Jesus essentially tells Peter that he should focus only on God’s plans for his own life rather than getting distracted by what God may do in other people’s lives. Keep your own focus on what matters most: following where Jesus leads you. When you do, fog will clear out of your life so you can see how God is doing something great through you.
Adapted from Faith in the Fog: Believing in What You Cannot See, copyright 2014 by Jeff Lucas. Published by Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mich.., www.zondervan.com.
Author and speaker Jeff Lucas travels internationally in a ministry of Bible teaching which carries a specific vision to encourage and equip the church. Jeff is the author of 22 books, as well as a number of study guides, booklets and a DVD teaching series called “Life Journeys.” Jeff’s books have been translated into French, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and German. He writes a monthly column for Christianity Magazine, and broadcasts three weekly radio shows. Jeff and Kay live in Loveland, Colorado, where he holds a teaching post at Timberline Church, Fort Collins. Learn more at: www.jefflucas.org.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Follow her on Twitter @WhitneyHopler.
Publication date: August 25, 2014