By Randy Sawyer
We’ve all heard the adage, “Seeing is believing,” and recognize behind it the philosophy that says, “I’ll not believe until I see it with my own eyes.” This was the attitude of Thomas regarding the Lord’s resurrection: “Unless I see the print of nails in His hands, I will not believe.”
For the Christian, however, the opposite can be true. It isn’t seeing that produces believing, but believing that produces seeing. Hebrews 11:1 declares, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Through eyes of faith an invisible dimension comes to life.
The Prophet Elisha resided in Dothan (II Kings 6:13-23). Because of its location, a well-positioned army could easily overwhelm the small community. Shortly after sunrise as Elisha’s servant did morning chores, he saw the sun reflecting off the burnished armor of a thousand shields and chariots. Terrified, he ran to Elisha for help.
With quiet confidence, Elisha replied, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” I doubt this simple comment resolved the young man’s fears. He was living by sight, and his physical eyes could only see the enemy.
Elisha interceded, praying, “Lord,…open his eyes that he may see.” And we read, “And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw.” What did he see? “Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire.”
Before Elisha’s prayer, the young man didn’t see everything there was to see. He saw the sun as it rose, the birds winging their way heavenward and the horses, chariots and thousands of Syrians. Yet he missed the most important sight—God’s presence. Faith and confidence allowed Elisha to view what the servant could not, and it will do the same for us.
Believing is seeing that God is present in every situation.
“The horses and chariots of fire” represent God’s presence. The young man did see the enemy, and that is commendable. Many don’t even see that much. Alexander McClaren wrote, “Worse foes ring round us than those whose armor glittered in the morning sunshine of Dothan.”
Although we need to see the adversary, it is imperative to look beyond, understanding that God is present also. Scottish preacher George Morrison commented, “In the world around us there is the presence of the living God and until we see that presence we are blind.” Through faith we can see not only the danger but the deliverer, not only the enemy but also the ally, not only the problem but also the possibilities.
Nothing affects us like the presence of a special individual. There are times when a special person keeps us from falling, shields us from discouragement or infuses us with strength.
As a seventh grader, I was quite small. It seems that every small boy must contend with the local bully. My personal nemesis was Ervin. He was one grade in school behind me, but having failed twice was a year older. He was huge, uncouth and mean.
At the same time I had a special friend named Gary. Gary was in my class, but he’d failed three grades. So in the seventh grade he was 15 years old. He stood about 6’2”, weighed 200-plus pounds and was tough as nails. One day Gary asked me, “How long are you going to let Ervin get the best of you?” I pretended not to hear the question. Then he added, “If you’ll fight him, I’ll go with you.”
Gary didn’t promise to end my troubles for me, but in my heart I knew he wouldn’t let Ervin murder me. The next afternoon I faced the adversary and won the day.
Believing is seeing that divine protection is available in every situation.
Keil and Delizsch’s commentary on the Old Testament says, “The fiery horses and chariots were symbols of the protecting powers of Heaven.” When Elisha prayed on behalf of the young man, he didn’t ask that the heavenly guard would come, but that the servant might see them. The miracle involved the momentary unveiling of what always was.
When Martin Luther was in the throes of the Reformation and the Pope was trying to bring him back to the Catholic Church, he sent a cardinal to deal with Luther and buy him with gold. The cardinal wrote to the Pope, “The fool does not love gold.”
Later, after failing to convince Luther to recant, the cardinal said to him, “What do you think the Pope cares for the opinion of a German boor? The Pope’s little finger is stronger than all Germany. Do you expect your princes to take up arms to defend you—you, a wretched worm like you? I tell you No. And where will you be then?” Luther’s reply was simple: “Where I am now. In the hands of Almighty God.”
While a lack of faith may leave us feeling vulnerable, believing is seeing!
Believing is seeing that God is at work in every situation.
Elisha was surrounded. Humanly speaking, the situation appeared desperate. But God was at work and had already delivered the enemy into Elisha’s hand. Keil and Delizsch commented that God’s over-riding purpose was to reveal His glory and rid Israel of the menacing Syrians.
God is at work in every situation, and eyes of faith can see it. Not that faith will reveal each detail or answer every question, but faith will grant the assurance that God is in control. He was only five when doctors discovered he was dying of cancer. Brokenhearted, his dad didn’t work for nearly six weeks. He gave his full attention to his sick little boy. A few weeks later the boy was admitted to the hospital, far too sick to remain at home. Later that day, the five-year old rested in the arms of Jesus. The year was 1958. The boy, Roger Keith Sawyer, was my brother. My dad, relating the story years afterward, said, “Randy, it still hurts, but I know now that God makes no mistakes.”
Even in that dark hour, God was doing something special. No matter the circumstances, God is at work molding and shaping us in His image and gaining glory for His name. Faith will enable us to view an unseen world where God is always at work.
Believing will enable us to see the presence of God, His divine protection and His activity in every situation. Perhaps you cry with the father spoken of in Mark 9:24. “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” You ask, how can I lay hold of this principle? Paul gave the answer in Romans 10, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Believing is seeing!
About the Writer: Randy Sawyer is a pastor in Gastonia, NC. Article Adapted from Contact Magazine.