She prayed over me the words, ‘Blessed is the one who has not seen, but yet believed.’ She prayed them over me as we sat on an old church pew, me completely in tears and face-in-hands, her arm around my shoulders. She prayed them as people worshipped and lifted songs to the Lord – as I felt too perplexed even to lift my face.
Blessed is the one who has not seen, but yet believed.
These words and stories that I’m typing out now are words and stories wrought of the struggle of the past few weeks, couple of months. It’s the struggle of feeling blind, perplexed and not sure why, like its hard to hold onto the truth of our great God. It’s hard to articulate:
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will
not stay in place,
Will not stay still.
Under the pressure of longing but failing to know God and see his grace, words slip, perish and fall.
But – Blessed is the one who has not seen, but yet believed.
Jesus spoke these words to Thomas, Thomas who doubted and would not believe until he saw the scars in Jesus’ hands and side. Against this example, Jesus calls us to believe in his truth even when we cannot see. Even when it might feel like God’s truth and anything concrete in this world are like gold-fine sand slipping through our weak fingertips, he invites us to press in and press forwards, learning to believe and stand firm on the Rock.
God is teaching me these things in this time of struggle. He’s teaching my heart how to beat more to his rhythm even when it feels dark and difficult and a little bit like I just want to cry. He’s teaching me of his love and his persistence and faithfulness – my roots are growing in his grace even when I can’t see them and don’t know how.
It’s like the canvases I saw when I sat on King’s wall a couple weeks ago, trying to write and process and pray. Across the road, in an art shop, a woman was preparing canvases to be painted or wrapped up or displayed or something. Even in times of struggle, God similarly prepares us for his purposes – we may not know why or what for, but even when we cannot see we can trust that God’s ways are good, that he’s still there and bringing us life.
Thus – Blessed is the one who has not seen, but yet believed.
Sitting in supervisions, God still whispers this truth to me. I’ve been writing essays on Paul and his letters, one about justification by faith. Paul cites Abraham as his example: the one chosen and called by God, completely by grace, before even the covenant was established. The promise and the faith came first, and Abraham responds, walking
towards a future, the only guarantee of which is the Lord’s call.
(Words from Enzo Bianchi’s ‘God, where are you?’ – would recommend even just the first chapter of this book!)
Abraham struggled to have faith, experiencing the darkness of the night and the long journey of pursuing God’s impossible purposes. Yet through the struggle, he still believed – and this granted him righteousness.
May I walk towards the future, even if it’s guaranteed only by the promise and faithfulness of God. I may not see or understand, I may still be perplexed – but may I be one who, although unseeing, is still believing.
My prayer – Blessed is the one who has not seen, but yet believed.
Blessed is the one who believes, and blessed are those who are confused and perplexed and feeling-low. Blessed are the tired and lonely and not-quite-understanding-why, blessed are the frail and weak.
Blessed are these who feel down-and-out, but yet believe.
Blessed are those who hold your hand, God, as they walk through desert places of tears and hard emotions and difficult conversations and pain. They are held in your arms and your heart beats love for them in their tears.
Blessed are those whose words break down as they try to articulate their struggle, and blessed are those who find it hard to look for hope as they gaze out across a world broken by injustice. You are still with them.
Blessed are those who feel hard things, but are still identified and guided by you.
Your truth still holds, Father – may we have faith and believe.