Written by: Conrade Yap (July 4th, 2016)
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Lonely? Frustrated? Sad? From time to time, we face troubles of various sort. What can we do with our doubts? Where is faith? Does Jesus care?
In moments like these, skeptics may even try to hammer in their doubts: “Show me God and I will believe that there is God.”
The unbelieving person is unlikely to believe on the basis of one or even two pieces of evidence. Is it really possible to show God? Even if we are successful in unveiling the deity before the most vocal skeptic, will that alone be enough to convince him/her of God’s existence? Probably not. For the stubborn, for every one evidence there will be another two statements of doubt. Maybe it’s an illusion. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe it’s just some stroke of luck that the evidence appear at that particular time.
The modern skeptic’s brazen request to see God contrasts sharply with the ancient Israelite. In the Old Testament, the common man in the street dared not see God face to face. For God is so holy that no one can bear the sight of a holy God. Genesis 32:30 tells us about how relieved Jacob was when he saw God face to face and was spared. Even Moses had to reassure the Israelites about approaching God without fear of death. In Exodus 20:18, they stayed at a distance upon seeing the thunder and lightning striking before them.Seeing God can lead to death. This is phobia. Fear paralyzes. Fear traps us in shades of weird hallucinations. Fear makes us think that even if there is a God, He doesn’t care.
The biblical use of the fear of God is not the phobia kind but the reverent type. It is a holy reverence of God that keeps us mindful of how sinful we are and how much we need God. Yet, how can we know that God is there when we cannot see Him? What happens when we feel like God is so distant or non-existent? Does God care when we are down and out? Does God care when we are lonely and sad? Is God even there?
Perhaps, the way to the heart is not via scientific evidence or philosophical gymnastics. It is through the knowledge of love and care, that there is Someone who truly cares for us. Last Sunday, the sermon on Luke 11 tells us about the four movements of prayer. The first is about the Lord’s Prayer. The second is the Parable of the Friend at Midnight. The third movement is the call to ask, seek, and knock. The fourth is about God as a loving Father who is ever ready to give, and give, and give. God cares for us in giving us our daily bread, in forgiving us of our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. God cares for us that even in our most brazen requests, God chooses to give us the benefit of the doubt, to give us what we need. God cares for us so much that the beautiful metaphor of God is that of a loving Father. Which father will not give his children more than what was asked for?
God is like that heavenly Father. God cares for us.
Whether we feel it or not, God cares for us. A dark and cloudy day can only hide the rays of the sun for a while. They do not wipe out the presence of the sun. In the same way, God’s care for us is like the sun that is always there, even when we don’t see it or feel it.
If we know that God cares for us, our most natural response is simply this: Faith.