“Believe nothing you see and only half that you hear.”
~Edgar Allan Poe
My vision is poor, literally and often figuratively.
This has caused unnecessary moments of panic on more than one occasion.
From standing in the shower and staring hard at the corner of the ceiling above me convinced a spider has decided it needs to rinse off, to squinting in low light attempting to decipher shadows outside my windows, my heart has raced and initiated the flight or fight response.
These were unnecessary moments of panic alleviated by putting on my glasses or turning on the light.
I have to see it to believe it, people say. Maybe most famously, the doubter himself: Thomas. He spent day after day in the presence of the Savior. He could see him, touch him, hear him. But when the time drew near for faith to be exercised, he was shortsighted.
“But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’”
Our gracious Savior knew that Thomas’ faith was weak. He humbly met him where he was, let him actually touch the wounds that would heal.
There are other times when we see something clearly but we’d rather not believe.
When I reached in the water to dump the pool skimmer and drew back because of the dead mole, I wished what I was seeing was not real.
When my mother fell and twisted her leg beneath her, the bone at the ankle clearly broken, I wished the wound away.
When I glance at the never ending news cycle and see a still shot of an Easter sign on a Christian school campus with a SWAT truck parked next to it, I can hardly handle the image much less go to the thoughts that follow.
I see it and I don’t want to believe it.
The brokenness of a dark and wrecked world is enough to make you turn away—close your eyes.
In one instance there is heartache of lives lost, twisted and evil intent, vision distorted. Even with an incomplete view, it appears to be an angry and confused shooter thinking “her” vision is all that matters.
The confusion does not end here. We now brave an entirely new frontier. Deepfake technology can give us plenty to see, plenty unbelievable visions. What looks like Tom Cruise talking on a social media account is just a guy using a computer program to become someone he’s not.
How can we even believe what we do see? We just choose to see what we want to believe.
We choose want we want, become what we want. We create a world view that is centered on us, distorting our vision all the more.
And when we put ourselves in the center, our field of vision will always be distorted.
Field of vision is the entire view encompassed by the eye trained in a particular direction. When our eyes are trained only on ourselves, on our desires, the view is massively limited. We miss what is coming. We misunderstand.
Now we don’t know what to believe, whether we see it or not.
When the vision is dependent on me, I know all too well, my field of vision is not enough.
Just like my poor physical vision, I require a lens to adjust my sight.
The only way I know to see clearly is to be sure my eye is trained in a particular direction. Like Thomas, I have to see Jesus or else nothing else can be believed. There is no context to all of creation without the Creator.
In crisis and chaos, the Creator reminds us that He is still sovereign.
When David hid in the cave, fearful that King Saul would take his life, it was hard to believe God was working out the promise already made.
When the Israelites stood with their backs to the Red Sea and the faces toward an angry Egyptian army, it was hard to believe God was working out the promise already made.
When Thomas watched His teacher and savior nailed to the cross, it was hard to believe God was working out the promise already made.
And yet in John 20, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
When the darkness surrounds us and we try to make out the shapes, try to see if they mean us harm, we have to let His light reveal the truth.
When we train our eyes on the danger and become overwhelmed, we have to remember to train our eyes instead on Him.
Like Thomas we learn that his wounds heal.
Our humble Savior offers His suffering to relieve ours.
He patiently reveals when we are ready to actually see.
Our Savior knows our faith is weak and will alleviate our unnecessary moments of panic if we will only see and believe.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:6-9