By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.
“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat!” Job 23:3
Can’t see Him. Can’t hear Him. Can’t touch Him. No wonder people think He may not be real. The catechism tells us God is a spirit and does not have a body like man. Apparently, some “spirits” on earth allegedly create “apparitions,” something tangible, and something ethereal like the image of a spirit, which people claim to actually see. But not God. He does not stoop to such. No man has seen God, the Bible tells us. Moses came close, but did not truly see Him.
God in the Old Testament appeared through various manifestations He Himself created, such as the moving, distinct cloud by day and the fiery pillar at night, leading the children of Israel through the wilderness of Sinai. He made Himself “visible” in his miraculous acts like separating the waters of the Red Sea, or the Jordan River, causing water to gush from a dry wilderness rock, or “appearing” in the burning bush to Moses, a bush that the fire did not burn up. His greatest manifestation of Himself is seen in His acts of creating everything we see—the whole universe. God’s power and mighty hand are evident everywhere in the intricate design and amazing perfection of His creation.
Then, in the days of the New Testament, God appears finally in His Son, the Book of Hebrews tells us. The Lord Jesus Christ is His Son, who does have a body, and lived among us for 33 years. His disciples and friends, and even His enemies, could see, talk to, hear from, eat with, touch, and handle. They could even kill Him. And then, these disciples and many of His friends and followers interacted with Him in His resurrected body.
But now He has left us and gone back to heaven. Yet He sends his Holy Spirit to be the Encourager and Comforter of our hearts and souls. But once more, the Holy Spirit is a spirit, which cannot be seen, touched, or handled.
So, is God real? Just as Thomas who said, “Unless I can see, place my own hands on the nail prints of His hands, put my fingers into the scar in His side, see with my own eyes the nail marks in His feet, I will not believe!,” so are we Thomas’ co-unbelievers. Doubts come to us, especially at low times, and we struggle with the reality of God. We say to ourselves, have I just fooled myself into believing God is? His periods of silence cause fears within us that He is not there. All of us experience this.
What problems does this create? It creates a tension of faith! This is faith being tested. The evidence of God, the visible manifestations of the Savior of our souls, and the moving within us of the Holy Spirit, must be known by faith. This is the condition God places upon us in this earthly life as beings created in his image. Faith must be exercised continually by you to truly rest in the reality of God. The whole chapter of Hebrews 11 veritably shouts this out to you. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Verse 1)
Without faith, we fail to please God, but with an exercised faith, we draw near to Him while believing He is! God rewards those who genuinely seek Him. Faith grabs hold of the truth that God is! (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is aggressive! It is faith’s nature not to be wishy-washy. It stands up and is recognized. My God is real, and His Word and creation tell me this is so! And thus I will converse daily with the God who is as I am regularly in His Word.
“That Word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.”
(4th verse of Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” 1529)