"How do you know that God answers prayers if you have never seen His face?" asked the man in old jeans and a tattered sweater standing in the food line at the homeless mission. "I mean, I go to church and I believe in God, but how do you know?"
Clammed up, nervous and inarticulate, the volunteer answered, but only to a barrage of other questions pertaining to faith and the presence of God. I was glad I was just watching and listening. Thankfully, he was not asking me.
When I left, the first question stayed with me. I thought to myself: "I go to church and I believe in God, but, how do you know?"
I have always liked questions that can be solved. I love the dialogue, the process and, ultimately, the solution. It is exhilarating to discover, explore and solve questions.
The church-going man in his old jeans and tattered sweater shared something in common with me that night. We both loved questions that can be solved. Unfortunately for the both of us, I am not sure his question is one that can be.
In prayer we ask, plead with and talk to what we have never seen. And to all of us doubting, Jesus only answers: "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (John 20:29).
That is not necessarily the kind of clear solution I love. But that is the problem all along. I too often love the answer to my question and forget to love the One who is the answer.
When I am struggling with something, I always turn to my wife and talk through it. Sometimes she responds with answers that I love, sometimes with ones I don't like and other times with only a listening ear. Most of the time, it is not her answer that solves my problem, but her presence through my struggle.
And so it is with God. God, it may not be your face that I see, your hands that I feel or your voice that I hear. But by faith I know your presence and I know you are near to me. Your answer to my prayers is your love for me. My answer to your nearness, your constant presence and your love - is my own.
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.