“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4
You have probably heard the phrase “I’ll believe it when I see it”, or “seeing is believing”. In fact, you have probably used these phrases yourself. It is part of our human nature to want to see, touch, smell, hear or taste something before we will accept it as real. In a court of law, a jury relies on evidence to convict a defendant of a crime; in the field of science, researchers require tangible results to prove theories.
This is not new to our modern age. In the New Testament after Jesus had been raised to life, the disciple Thomas said, “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.” (John 20:24).
There is so much more to life than what is visible to the eye. As Paul writes to the Corinthians in this letter, he urges them to focus on the life to come, and to look at the future which is unseen. It is so easy to become blinkered and to concentrate on our immediate circumstances. This is very understandable, especially when we face suffering and hardship, but this passage encourages us to look beyond our present troubles. Over the centuries people have endured the most horrendous pain and suffering because they were fighting for a cause greater then themselves.
We can easily lose heart if we fixate on the immediate and the temporary, because these things inevitably fade away and let us down. However, the hope we have in Christ is eternal, certain and unchanging. When compared to the short time we spend on earth, it puts everything into perspective and gives us hope for a glorious future.
This hope of eternal glory is not a vague notion or a half-hearted promise. We are guaranteed a place with God for eternity, based on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by dying on the cross. He experienced pain and anguish on an extreme level by enduring crucifixion, but this was momentary compared to the reward that he won, not for himself, but for the very people that rejected and sent him to his death.
He was raised to life and appeared alive and well to those who he came to save. He gave them the proof that their eyes required and we are able to read about this is scripture. When Jesus had shown Thomas his wounds, he said “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29)
Jesus resurrection and triumph over death allows us to be renewed, and given life in all its fullness. This may not come whilst we are living on earth in our current situations, because our earthly bodies are growing old and we live in a broken world, but we are being restored to life in the spiritual and unseen realm and our future in heaven with Jesus is secure if we acknowledge him as Saviour. Although not measurable or visible to the eye, it doesn’t make it any less real or important – Paul says that it makes it more important, because it lasts for eternity! In a similar way to electricity, you cannot see it, but you can see the effects. It does require a leap of faith, but it is not blind faith.
Jesus has shown us the way to eternal life, we simply have to open our spiritual eyes to the unseen, and ask for his help to “see and believe”.