When Our Own Eyes Deceive Us

One of my most vivid childhood memories is pedaling around and around our small cove on my blue and white ten-speed bike. There was a certain home in our cove with, what appeared at the time, a dangerously steep and lengthy driveway.  My eight-year-old-self thought that biking headlong down it seemed like just the way to keep life exciting. I’ll never forget the fear and awe I felt at the top of that death-defying plunge for the first time. It seemed daunting, insurmountable…would I even live to tell the tale?

You could imagine my shock last month when I went back to visit my childhood home and realized this “death-defying plunge” was completely unimpressive- it could barely pass for a hill at all. How could this be? How could my own eyes have so clearly deceived me?

I’m convinced that our physical eyes deceive us much more than we’d like to admit. Unfortunately, though, it often happens with things a lot more critical that the size of a driveway. Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings Chapter 6 is a prime example. He and Elisha faced circumstances that appeared much too intimidating to overcome. One of the kings in a nearby region was enraged that God had given Elisha the prophetic ability to know his plans. In his anger, the king set out to destroy Elisha. At daybreak Elisha’s servant went out of the house to find a huge army surrounding them. As you can imagine, he was scared to death. He didn’t think they’d survive, much less come out completely untouched.

I’ve been there. Battling fear. Believing that all of the things I once hoped for may be irreparably shattered by my circumstances. You?

Elisha’s servant may have been terrified, but Elisha saw what his servant couldn’t. 2 Kings 6:16 tells us Elisha’s response to him: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” What Elisha could see, not with his physical eyes but with his spiritual ones, were horses and chariots of fire surrounding them. Elisha prayed for his servant, that he’d also be able to see God’s protection. God granted this request, and the servant was filled with the peace and confident trust that comes as a result of believing God.

What in your life looks like an impossible feat?  What is causing fear and discouragement? These are the places we need God’s fresh perspective. May I encourage you ask Him to give you His viewpoint regarding your circumstances? Begin searching the scriptures and asking Him to reveal His Word to you. Just like He opened the servant’s eyes to see His protection, so He can open yours. His promises of protection and victory are capable of bringing back the hope and peace we all so desperately want.

Psalm 121:1-4

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.”

Unanswered Prayers

Last week I visited a lady who has been paralyzed from the waist down for more than eight months. There is absolutely no explanation for her sudden paralysis; she literally got up one morning, walked to the kitchen table to sit down, and couldn’t get back up a few minutes later. No warning. No signs at all. Nothing. She is a widow with only one sister and a part-time nurse to divide the majority of her care, housework, and cooking. Some days she’s in her bed until 11 am waiting for someone that can come and help her move from the bedroom to the couch. She told me through tears how she begs God, morning and night, to heal her legs. She, maybe like you or someone you love, is experiencing a season where her numerous requests to God have seemed to go unanswered.

Some of us have been praying about the same burden for a very long time. I understand; there have been times when my prayer life sounded like a bad country song stuck on repeat. You know, the one where your dog dies, you lose your wife and kids, someone steals your truck, and your best friend gets put in jail. Thankfully it hasn’t been quite that dire, but you get the point. Prolonged hardship with seemingly no answers is tough.

Why does this happen? Why would God delay an answer to our sincere prayers when we are in need? I think one answer lies in the story of Lazarus in John 11. In this account we are introduced to Lazarus, a man that was very ill, and his sisters Mary and Martha. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother was sick because, well, it had become pretty obvious that Jesus was in the business of healing people. Since they were close friends with Jesus, their assumption was that he would come right away. But what the Word says is puzzling: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days” (v.5-6). Wait. He loved them, so he stayed where he was? How does this make sense? Apparently Mary and Martha had a hard time understanding this, too. Both of them, upon Jesus’ arrival several days later, came to the same crushing conclusion: “If you [Jesus] had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God made a point that has shifted my thinking since the time I read it: Jesus delayed going to see Lazarus because he wanted Mary and Martha to know Him in a deeper way. You see, they had already experienced Jesus as healer. If he had come and healed Lazarus immediately, Mary and Martha wouldn’t have learned anything more about Jesus than they already knew. Instead, Jesus waited for several days so that He could reveal Himself as the resurrection and the life. (Yes, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.)

Did this cause Mary and Martha confusion and grief during the wait time? Yes. Was it worth it to know Jesus in a more intimate way than ever before? Absolutely. The same is true for you and me.

If you’re currently feeling the weight of unanswered prayers or unmet expectations, be encouraged. Jesus’ delay will give you the opportunity to know Him in a more fulfilling way than ever before. Hang on, friend; It will be worth every temporary tear and frustration.