Each one of us tends to treat our own experiences as the gold standard by which all others are judged. If I’ve my first car was a Ford that broke down a lot, I’ll probably believe that all Fords are junk. Very little will change my mind. No survey, no statistic, and no article in Consumer Reports has the power to unseat my experience.
This fallacy in thinking affects every part of our existence, but it is likely at its most dangerous in the spiritual realm. When we talk about pain and suffering, we have a hard time comprehending why these things happen. We can’t imagine anything that would make it worthy.
I was reading a book about heaven that illustrated this thought. Calvin Miller wrote:
“If I tried to define heaven, I would likely fall into the same trap as people who write serious theological works on the subject. I have read a few of these books, but I almost always get the feeling that the authors are taking their celestial pictures with weak cameras and cheap film, ultimately producing only vague images of God’s wondrously vast reality. Apart from the glimpses of heaven that one finds in the Bible, how much more can we know for now? I think Isaiah 55:9 says it best for me, in the Lord’s own words: ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
The pictures we take from our experiences are vivid images in technicolor, while the images of things not yet experienced are lackluster. In Christianity, we cling to the truth that there are things truer than my feelings, realer than my experiences, and more promising than what I see right in front of me.
In the words of Jesus, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Peter wrote, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
May we be the people who rejoice in the things that are more real than the reality in front of our eyes.