For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Cor. 13:12)
I find Paul’s words challenging because I often wish I could see God’s purposes more clearly. Sometimes I don’t understand why certain things happen, or why other things don’t happen. How could that four-year-old be dying from cancer? How come there’s evil in the world? How come some really bad people go through life without a hitch, while some really good people go from tragedy to tragedy?
Even though Paul’s words challenge me, they also comfort me. If the Apostle Paul could write that even he sometimes only saw in a mirror dimly, who are we to think the Lord’s plans would always be totally clear?
One of the reasons why our only seeing in a mirror dimly can be so painful is that we have this wistful, even magical, notion that it should be otherwise. If only we had the right faith, lived the right way, said the right prayers, all would be clear. Such thinking is a trap. Either we end up believing we’ll never get it right and despair, or we’ll fear we must be doing something wrong and shame ourselves.
I’ve often wondered why Jesus doesn’t make His ways clearer. Why do we see only in part?
I think that’s where faith comes in. If God’s ways were totally clear and understandable, we wouldn’t need faith. Besides that, maybe Jesus only gives glimmers of His face now because seeing Him face-to-face would be too overwhelming.
Jesus asks us to trust that He’s working out his purposes in our lives, whether we see clearly or dimly what those purposes might be. He does, though, give glimpses of His face, and those moments give us courage to keep soldiering on.
While treasuring those moments when Jesus and His ways seem clear, I also encourage us to never let go of the hope that someday we will indeed see Jesus clearly and completely and not dimly or partially. In that moment we will then know Him just as He knows us now.
- I wrote that I find Paul’s words today both challenging and comforting. How do you respond to them?
- Has your faith ever been shaken because you didn’t clearly see or understand what God could be doing in your life? If so, have you brought your hurt, grief, or dismay to God?
- Have you ever received or been given a glimpse of God’s face? If so, how? Is it possible that God could now be giving you some glimpses of His love and presence that you aren’t seeing?