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Seeing the Unseen

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Looking Up
Seeing the Unseen

Most people are blessed with the gift of sight and we rely heavily on our eyes. They reveal the world around us and we use them to ensure we are going the right direction. However, our eyes cannot see everything. Sometimes we see things and do not understand and other times things are not really as they appear. So, we must deal with unseen realities. That leads to the question, is it possible to see the unseen?

The Apostle Paul talked about the unseen in his second letter to the Corinthians. He discussed some spiritual things that can’t be seen, then he described some major physical problems that were seen, such as, trouble, persecution, and death. But then he said,

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

How are trouble, persecution, and death sentences “light affliction” or small problems? I have a hard time with bug bites so it is difficult to imagine calling persecution a small problem. Yet, Paul said these are “light afflictions” because they are temporary and should be compared to eternal glory. Picture in your mind a pair of scales. One side has temporary earthy problems and the other side has never ending heavenly glory. Which one weighs more? The eternal glory.

You may say, “Okay glory in Heaven is great, but problems on Earth are still painful.” That’s true and Paul did not deny it. Instead, he offered hope by telling us the pains and problems of Earth are actually investing in Heaven. How is that helpful?

Consider the farmer or gardener who labors to prepare soil, plant seeds, pull weeds, water, fertilize, and fight pests. Why would someone go through all that trouble for plants? Every day while performing those tasks the farmer “sees” a harvest coming. Not with physical eyes but eyes of faith. That harvest is physically “unseen” yet the farmer knows it is coming and so is motivated to keep investing time and energy.


Keep in mind that the farmer is laboring for a harvest that no one really understands how it happens. We can’t see how plants use sunlight to make food and release oxygen, we just know that it happens in a process called “photosynthesis”. This is a basic life process but scientists still don’t know exactly how it works.[i]

We don’t know “how” but we know photosynthesis works because God made it to work. We see the results of an unseen process in the physical world and it should help us think seriously about the unseen things in the spiritual world.

In fact, this is the pattern we see in the Bible.  God does something that people can see with their eyes so they can believe His words about the unseen – whether it is a future event or a spiritual lesson.

For example, remember the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through a hole in to reach Jesus?  While the people watched expecting something, what was the first thing Jesus said to the man?  Was it “be healed” or “your sins are forgiven”? When He said, your sins are forgiven, the people thought Jesus had blasphemed. But He asked them,

“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.” (Luke 5:23-25)

So how do we know that Jesus can forgive our sins, which is an unseen process?  Because He healed a paralyzed man whom the witnesses saw.  Similarly, how do we know Jesus can get us to the unseen Heaven?  Because 500 eyewitnesses saw Him alive after his crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15) and passed the facts from one generation to another as recorded in the Bible. 

The unseen is there for us to see with eyes of faith.  When challenges bring discouragement because you see the pain, look for evidence that is given to remind you of the unseen.  Maybe consider the wonders of creation that point to the Creator.  Maybe remember what the Lord has done for you in the past and be thankful.  Definitely go to God’s Word for encouragement. There you will see that our Savior endured great agony and suffering to save us and demonstrate God’s love.  He proved there is a reward in Heaven even as He offers hope on Earth.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

As you go about your life, be encouraged to show the unseen love of God in your deeds.  Share His unseen knowledge and wisdom from the Bible. This will help you and others look up from the temporary difficulties to the eternal glory that awaits followers of Jesus.


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