“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1
What you see is a smiling woman appearing confident and healthy. What you don’t see is the pale face with wide, panicked eyes, horrified at the idea of leaving the house the night before. What you see is eyes sparkling in the sun of a brighter day. What you don’t see are tears dripping onto the cold, dirty basement floor because that’s where she happened to collapse.
What you see is the going out and the doing. What you don’t see is the disappointment and grief with each failed attempt and each gathering missed. What you see is the poker face. What you may not see is the grip on her husband’s hand or how many hours the panic shaking lasted afterwards.
What you see is a woman strong in the Holy Spirit, speaking in front of people. What you don’t see is the panic attack days later refusing to allow her out the door. What you hear is a confident word from the Lord. What you don’t hear are the voices straight from the evil one convincing her that she’s a fraud.
What you see is sunshine. What you don’t see are the dark fingers of fear picking at old beliefs, “You shouldn’t go out in public. You’re a hypocrite. You let fear win. You’re alone. You don’t deserve to be comforted. You’re getting worse, not better. You’ll never be free.” What you see is a woman learning to love herself and, most days, succeeding in at least offering herself grace. What you don’t see are the downward spirals into the pit again, though fewer and farther between, thanks be to God. What you see is a walking, standing, worshiping woman. What you don’t see is a hyperventilating, panicking child, crumpled in the fetal position on the floor.
What I see is darkness, the only light highlighting every imperfection. What I don’t see is the veil Satan has tossed over my eyes. What I feel is the white-hot sear of panic rising in my chest. What I don’t feel, because for a time I don’t believe I deserve it, is a hand of comfort. What I vaguely remember is that this has an end, even if I don’t believe at the time. What I don’t see is the hand of God on my shoulder, pulling me back toward the light with that reminder. What I know in the distant recesses of my mind is that the lies from the evil one are not true. What I don’t know at the time is the Holy Spirit prodding my mind to remember that. What I want is to be a strong, confident woman who no longer struggles with anxiety. What I don’t want is to worship. What I know is that God fights for me when I worship. What I don’t fully understand is how strong He is in my weakness.
“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” – 2 Chronicles 20:22
What I do is crawl to my feet in the strength God provides and eek out a song through ragged breath. What I don’t do is rescue myself. What I hear is the ugliest tear-drenched song, if I can even call it that. What I don’t hear are angels joining in, making the song more beautiful than I could dream. What I see is the blurred image of the laundry room as the whispered song continues. What I don’t see are the heavenly armies mobilizing. What I manage to push out my mouth is truth combating lies, “I am able in Christ. I am not a fraud. God is my comforter. I am worthy. I am not alone.” What I don’t see is the Holy Spirit welling up in me, giving me the strength to say those things. What I hear is my voice thanking God that, at the name of Jesus, evil must flee. What I don’t hear is the clash of swords in the spiritual realm. What I see are my exhausted hands halfheartedly lifted in a small measure of praise. What I don’t see is God fighting for me while I worship.
What I finally believe is the truth that I am worthy of comfort. What I don’t see, but feel, is God comforting me. What I know is my strength and peace is returning. What I know is it’s actually God’s strength and peace filling me. What I see is a tiny ray of light. What I don’t see is God’s hand cradling me. What I know is I need help so I reach out. What I don’t hear are their prayers rising to a powerful God. What I know is that prayers, praise, and worship are being lifted. What I don’t see is heaven mobilized to fight for me, to rescue me, to give me strength for this moment and hope for the next.
What we see is far less real and important than what we don’t see.
“‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” – 2 Kings 6:16-17