I was reading from Genesis 28 the story where Jacob had a beautiful vision in the middle of the wilderness. Having no place to go, he took a stone and lay it under his head as a pillow. As he slept, he saw a ladder where the angels of God ascended and descended, and God affirmed his promise to be with Jacob and his descendants. His words when he awoke from that dream caught my attention: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16)
Jacob isn’t the only one in scripture who had this experience. Much later in Israel’s history in 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s servant was afraid. Israel was vastly outnumbered. The city was surrounded by an army with horses and chariots. He cried out, “What shall we do?” Elisha’s answer was beautiful: “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha prayed, and God opened the eyes of the young man so that he saw that the mountain was overflowing with horses and chariots of fire. God was present, and the servant didn’t even know it.
On the morning of the resurrection, two men were walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem. They kept recounting the story of the weekend’s events—the late-night trials, the arrest, and the death of the beloved rabbi. As the men walked, Jesus joined them and spoke with them about the Messiah and how he had to suffer for them to see glory. After their eyes were opened and they recognized the one with whom they walked, they said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32) They were literally walking with Jesus, and didn’t know it.
I share these three stories to say this: sometimes you feel alone. Sometimes you don’t think your prayers are making it past the ceiling. Sometimes you’re not sure what future you have at all. When you feel that way, let scripture remind you of this truth: God can be present right there beside you—and you didn’t even know it.