Why is it that when we are in the midst of troubling situations we often think and feel we are all alone? Our Heavenly Father has promised that He would never leave us, nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5-6). He is with us! We are not alone. Yet, sometimes we think we are. Why can’t we see Him or hear Him?
The Lord showed me Luke 24:13-16 where two of Jesus’ disciples did not recognize Jesus as He walked with them.
“And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.”
I also noticed in Matthew 28:16-17 that some of the disciples were doubtful when they saw the resurrected Jesus; while the others were worshiping Him.
“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.”
In John 12:28-30 we see something similar when God the Father audibly speaks from Heaven and the people surrounding Jesus thought it was thunder.
“’Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered… Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.’”
In all three of these situations their conscious minds were seeing and hearing, but their hearts (subconscious mind) were not able to fully understand.
Before we make big judgments about these people we need to ask how many times has the Lord appeared or spoken to us and we have not recognized Him? It is so easy for us to face the tribulations of life and not see the Lord working or hear His voice. So I have been asking the Lord why is it that this can happen?
The Lord called my attention to Luke 24:13-26 and showed me three reasons why Cleopas and his friend (2 of Jesus’ disciples) could walk with the resurrected Lord in the midst of a time of uncertainty and not recognize Him.
1. They were preoccupied with the tribulation of the moment and not the possibilities of the moment.
If you read the passage you will notice they are focused on the negative facts concerning Jesus’ crucifixion and not the positive possibilities of the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus rebuked them and told them they were slow of heart to believe the truth that had been spoken and revealed. “And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’” (Luke 24:25) The disciples allowed the negative facts to overshadow the positive possibilities.
2. They had established expectations concerning the promises of the Lord.
“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened” (Luke 24:21).
Notice they said they were expecting Him to redeem Israel. The truth is that He did and is redeeming Israel. The problem was that they were expecting Him to do it physically at that time. Instead of His Kingdom being established, He was crucified. Their expectations of what God had promised shut down their hearts and opened the doorway for hopelessness. “And they stood still, looking sad” (Matthew 28:16-17).
When Jesus was brought to Jerusalem as a baby both Simeon and Anna were able to recognize Him. Both knew He was the deliverer of Israel (Luke 2:30, 35) even as a baby. Of all of the thousands of babies both of them probably saw in the temple over all of those years, they were able to instantly recognize the redeemer of Israel. Anna and Simeon were able to see and recognize Jesus because they did not get distracted with the expectations of what the redemption of Israel would look like.
Many times I have had words from the Lord and could not fully see the Lord working. The reason was I had established expectations of how I thought His promises would look and/or work out. Because I had established these expectations it opened the door for disillusionment and discouragement. “Hope (expectations) deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
3. They were looking for the promises of the Lord more than they were looking for the person, the Lord Jesus Himself.
Their statement that they were hoping He was going to redeem Israel was evidence of their heart’s focus. Proverbs 3:6 tells us that our lives’ focus is to know the Lord. “…In all your way acknowledge (literally: know) Him.” God’s promises are magnificent. But our obsession needs to be for the Lord more than for His provisions.
When we look for the Lord more than we look for His provisions, we will be able see and hear the Lord clearly. We will see and hear what we are looking for. If our heart looks for the promise more than the Lord, then when the promise is delayed–or seemingly delayed– we will fall into discouragement because we do not see what we were looking for.
But the Lord will never leave us. When we seek the Lord in tribulations and trials, I believe, the Lord’s provisions most of the times are behind Him. We will find Him before we will find and receive the provisions. We know we have found Him because the fruit of the Spirit will be present in our lives.
One time I was with some friends and we were carefully walking over a decaying, unsteady swinging bridge. The bridge crossed a very fast flowing, wide river. I was the last in the line of six crossing the river.
As I started onto the bridge I looked up and I saw a man, plainly dressed, standing at the other side. My first thought was, “I hope the man doesn’t try to cross the bridge while we were on it.”
As I got to the middle of the bridge I saw the man still standing there, only a few yards in front of first people in our group. When I got to other side he was not there. I asked the others where the man was. They told me there was no one there. I looked all around for evidence of the man and I found none. Then I realized I had seen an angel with my physical eyes and I did not even realize it.
I believe if I had not been so preoccupied with the danger of the bridge I might have been able to recognize an angel of the Lord.
God is calling us to be preoccupied with Him and Him alone. Sure He gives us His wonderful promises, but the fulfillment and revelation of life is not God’s provisions, it is Him.