Look at this image and count the black dots.

Did you count twelve? If you didn’t count twelve, you’re normal … but there are twelve black dots. We’re fascinated by optical illusions like this that mess with our perception. Our perception does not mesh with reality.

There really are twelve dots.

Overall, our peripheral vision is not as good as we like to think it is. The black dot you’re seeing is in the center of your vision, but the other black dots around it seem to appear and disappear. It’s like focusing on a single word in this paragraph. Try reading other words on the same line without moving your eyes. The other words are blurry, aren’t they? So, in this illusion, while you see the overall image of intersecting gray lines, your eyes are focused on one point. Meanwhile, your brain is offering its best guess about what’s going on in the fuzzy parts of your periphery vision. And because there’s a regular pattern of gray lines on a white background, your trusty brain assumes that pattern is everywhere else and that’s what you think you’re seeing. [Source]

By “filling in the blanks” our brain gives us a wrong sense of reality. You can look at the image knowing that, but it’s still hard to convince ourselves that there are twelve black dots. 

For too many people, God is nothing more than an optical illusion. They don’t see Him, but that doesn’t mean He’s not there.  To use the above image as an illustration, their attention is focused in one area, maybe on a harsh, painful experience. God did not rescue them, or they wondered where God was. They take that perceived absence and apply it to the rest of life. A lot of things can affect people’s perception of God: violence, the loss of innocence, cancer, betrayal. The list can be endless, but for the individual who didn’t see or experience God in that singular moment, their minds fill in the gaps and assume they can’t see or experience God anywhere; therefore, they believe He doesn’t exist.

This is where faith comes in—but it’s not a blind faith. I do not have faith because it’s something I want to believe. I have faith because God has given me faith (Rom. 12:3; Heb. 12:2). I can see because God, in His grace, has enabled me to see.

I look around me and I can’t help but see the work of God. I am not blind to the fact that this is a cruel, harsh world, but I still see evidence of God. God is no illusion. Even in those moments when the harshness of life is weighing on me, I remind myself that God is not as absent as I think He is. He is there.

Job was a man in the Old Testament who experienced incredible grief. If that wasn’t enough, his grief over all he lost was matched by physical pain. He was considered a righteous man, but even when all this grief and difficulty was dumped on him, he didn’t waver in his faith. He questioned God on the why of it all, but He never questioned the who.

Midway through the book of Job, Job uttered this profound statement of faith:

But I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the end he will stand on the dust.

Even after my skin has been destroyed,

yet I will see God in my flesh.

 I will see him myself;

my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger.

My heart longs within me” (Job. 19:25-27).

If you’re in a season of wondering if God is there, trust Him. He’s there. God is no illusion; in fact, He is the very essence and source of reality.

God is no illusion—and neither is faith!

“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

Keep looking. God is there.

“For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made” (Rom. 1:20).

God is there—and that’s no illusion.

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