It’s an afternoon in May in Cape Town and I’m looking at clouds in the sky. There are a lot of clouds in May and Africa has some of the best sunsets in the world, and this is what the writer of Psalm 19 is referring to when he says that ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands…”
The forces at work that create the conditions for clouds to appear, and determine their type and altitude are invisible; things like convection, wind, gravity, static electricity and a host of other phenomena. The sun sets and rises the next day without fail, “at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth…”
The psalmist begins with the God of creation and in verse seven moves to the LORD, the covenant-making One who reveals himself deeper than mere nature can. He has made the law, scripture that illuminates us and points us to Him.
The law is perfect, refreshes the soul, imparts wisdom to the simple, giving joy to the heart and establishes righteousness. Like the forces that act to make clouds that we can see, the law works inside the human heart in ways we cannot see but with each the effect is visible. Can you see righteousness? Can you point out wisdom? Establish a test to observe the refreshment of a soul? Quantify the fear of the Lord? There is more in this world and the next than we can see.
Strange that we don’t trust things we can’t see. We have no idea what the future holds and that terrifies us, some more than others. Well, who made the dimension of future and who has already been there and who has promised to take care of us? God, of course.
At our absolute worst, when we may entertain doubts we may know what the atheist feels like but only for a short time. To a lesser degree we may not doubt God’s existence, but we may doubt his goodness or his power. The author of psalm 73 begins to doubt that God is fair because as he looks around there appear to be no consequences for those who do evil and as a moral being he innately knows that fairness means that God should reward the good and punish the evil. Though of course, ‘who is good except God alone’? When he entered the sanctuary of the Lord, then he ‘understood their final destiny.’ (verse 17b). Technically invisible, but with eyes of faith we see truth.
Ultimately God will right every wrong and it takes a lot of faith to be able to see that. A shaft of light can look unremarkable until a prism splits the light into its component frequencies from Red to Violet. Faith is like peeling back the curtain and looking at the world that lies beyond.
Hebrews 11: 1: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see.” Peel back the curtain, put that prism in the sun, and let scripture tell us the truth, the way God looks at things.