Since my early 20’s, I’ve been making spectacles of myself – in a manner of speaking. During my boyhood years, my right eye had occasional encounters with things like tennis balls and a toy pistol, so my distance vision needed correction. I’ve worn eyeglasses ever since. However, being nearsighted, I don’t need them for things up close.
My wife is different. Thanks to recent cataract surgery, she now has near-perfect farsighted vision. It’s seeing things up close that poses problems. Combined, we can boast 20:20 vision both far and near, even though lots of things haven’t looked all that good in 2020.
If you were to choose, which would you prefer? Flawless farsighted vision, or excellent close-up vision? In terms of physical eyesight, a good argument could be made for either. It depends on what you’re wanting to do.
But spiritually speaking, I’m convinced being farsighted has to be the preferred choice. The Bible affirms this over and over. It’s at the heart of the Christian faith – being willing to trust in things we can only see from afar, despite disheartening circumstances that might surround us.
The Scriptures abound with numerous examples of what we might call “spiritual farsightedness.” Jesus, speaking to the doubting disciple Thomas after he insisted on seeing visible proof of His resurrection, said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
After suffering a series of personal losses, including his children, and wracked by painful sores over his entire body, Job declared, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth…. I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:26-27).
Here are some other passages that underscore this emphasis on the value of spiritual far-sight:
“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 4:18).
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
“Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
The 11thchapter of the book of Hebrews speaks extensively about the need for spiritual farsightedness, even when the way ahead seems dark or obscured:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family” (Hebrews 11:7).
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrew 11:8).
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance” (Hebrews 11:13).
After citing other glowing examples of unwavering, unconquerable faith, the chapter reaffirms,“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40).
We find ourselves in the closing days of an unforgettable year many of us wish we could forget. What we’ve been seeing, up close and personal, often hasn’t passed the eye test. This is all the more reason for practicing, as did the biblical patriarchs, a faith that looks not down but ahead – toward a not yet seen, but promised future of joy and peace. Anticipating the time when we’ll be experiencing the words of the old hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”: “…when the faith shall be sight.”