Ephesians 1:18 “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…”
Have you ever seen the movie National Treasure? In the movie, in order to read clues hidden on the back of the original Declaration of Independence, clues that lead to a treasure hidden by America’s founding fathers, the hero of the movie, Benjamin Gates, needs special glasses with colored lenses invented by Ben Franklin. Without the glasses, all you see is parchment.
In order for us to understand what is really going on in the world, we need God’s clues. But we can’t see them at all without his special “glasses,” if you will. That’s why the Bible often describes our natural spiritual condition as “blindness” or “darkness.” We just can’t see. That’s why the Lord gives us his gospel and calls us to faith. Even then our vision is often blurred by our own sinful nature. That’s why Paul prays that our hearts may be enlightened so that we can see the hope to which God has called us.
Are you aware of the darkness of which I am speaking? You and I still have to fight it in our own lives. It creeps into our thinking in all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. If you became deathly ill and suffered from chronic pain with no way to find relief, and your family was coming apart at the seams, and then you lost your job, and one of these sink holes you hear about on the news from time to time opened up right under your house and swallowed it whole, and you learned that your home-owners insurance policy specifically excluded loss or damages from sinkholes, what would you conclude?
You might start wondering what you ever did to make God so mad. You might even start to question his fairness. Your faith in his goodness and love might be seriously shaken. And you would be wrong. That is the unenlightened thinking of spiritual darkness. That’s your sinful nature talking, and it is a serious threat to your faith.
If you are like me, your first thought would not likely be, “How deeply God must love me to go to such lengths to loosen my grip on this world, and to teach me that there is no heaven on earth, and to leave me nothing on which I can rely except him alone, and to give me this opportunity to know his all-encompassing love even better.” To us, the parchment looks blank, and the darkness makes it impossible to see. For this, we need to put on the special glasses.
We need eyes of faith looking through gospel lenses that interpret everything in the light of Christ’s cross and God’s promises. Then we can conclude with Dr. Becker, “In this way the children of God learn to know that God is nearest just at the moment when he seems to be farthest away. At the time when he seems to be most angry, when he sends them afflictions and trials, they know him best as their merciful Savior. When they feel the terrors of sin and death most deeply, then they know best that they have eternal righteousness. And just when they are of all men the most miserable, they know that they are lords over all things.”