Things Not Seen: The Meaning of Faith in a Society of Instant Gratification

One of the most common arguments I hear that God either is not real or is not involved in our lives is that there is no concrete evidence God has done anything for me. Prayer must not work because I can't prove He answered. God is not real because He did not stop this tragedy from occurring. God is nonexistent until proven otherwise.

Under this line of thinking, Christians are mocked, discounted, and accused of being passive bystanders every time they try to argue that God has a plan. Common Biblical reminders to "pray continually" and that "all things happen for good" are openly derided as excuses to turn a blind eye to the world's problems. When any attempted rebuttal is instantly shut down, the easiest solution for many Christians is simply not to say anything at all.

I wish I could say this surprises me. But I am constantly reminded that we live in a heavily visually biased society accustomed to instant gratification. When everything we think we want is no more than a click away, it does indeed seem foolish to insist on waiting for God to provide in His own time. At the core, we are a "seeing is believing" society. As finite beings with a limited view of the world we live in, it is difficult to grasp the idea of a spiritual reality that runs parallel to the literal reality we perceive, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. "After all, we cannot concretely see gravity, but no one tries to argue it isn't real. We just try really hard not to fall."

Similarly, the power of God does not need to be visible in order to exist. The trap we often fall into when we make this argument is of pointing out incidents where we feel God has not been there to help us, without being consciously aware of the times when God has. Because the latter is unknown, we factor it out of our figuring and end up with equations of intervention that are deeply flawed.

As hard as it is for all of us--Christians included--to grasp, God does not exist to follow our commands, give us everything we ask for, or stop every disaster or loss of life. Yes, it might seem really nice if He did, but we form this opinion based on our limited perception of literal time without considering spiritual reality. For a Christian such as myself, prayer is the ultimate appeal to a higher power, not an excuse to stand by and watch. I believe that all things happen for a reason because I am putting my trust in the spiritual reality I cannot comprehend. What may look like arrogance, naiveté, or outright foolishness to the rest of the world can for a Christian be summed up in one word: faith.

Not everything that happens to us makes sense. The Paris attacks, San Bernardino shooting, the Philippine Islands battered by typhoons--we all wish these things didn't happen, and we sympathize with victims and their families. But we as Christians also remember that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) Our society relies heavily on visual bias, but that doesn't mean this way of thinking is right.

Seeing is not always believing. We can't put statistics on the results of prayer, but this doesn't make it useless. Our inability to scientifically prove that God is real is entirely irrelevant; if we could prove it, we would have no need of faith.