Look Past The Surface



If God works all things together for our good, then we must learn to look past the surface to see the hand of God working behind the scenes. It’s called faith.

We will either believe our eyes and our own interpretation of events, or we will believe what God’s Word says about what is happening in our lives.

If we only believe what we see on the surface of our lives, we will conclude God is either cruel or unkind, like someone who sees a doctor cutting into a patient, and concludes that the doctor is cruel. In reality, the doctor is doing a c-section to deliver the woman’s baby – an occasion of incredible joy. So though on the surface it appears the doctor is being cruel, he is actually being kind to the patient.? In fact, if he didn’t do the surgery, he would be cruel to both mother and baby.

Our hearts are continually interpreting life as it happens to us. Mature believers bring biblical interpretations to the surface events of their lives, as Joseph did in Genesis. On the surface, he was a victim of his brothers’ evil intentions. But looking below the surface, he knew that he was the beneficiary of God’s good intentions.

“One property of a humble soul is this; it will quietly bear burdens, and patiently take blows and knocks, and make no noise. A humble soul sees God through all the actions of men. He looks through the secondary causes, and sees the hand of God. He looks through to the supreme cause.” — Thomas Brooks

This is the “good fight of faith” — to daily look past the surface of the events of our lives and interpret them according to Scripture. Even if we don’t understand why certain things are happening to us, with the eyes of faith we can see God’s hand behind them working all things for our good.

This is where Israel failed in the desert. In Deuteronomy 8 God tells Israel that he took them through the desert to humble them, to teach them to rely on his Word, and to teach them that God provides for and disciplines his children. Yet most of the time, Israel interpreted the surface events as “God brought us out here to kill us.” If only they could have looked past the surface with the eyes of faith.

What’s happening on the surface of your life? How will you interpret it? Through the lens of the natural mind? Or through the lens of faith?

photo by sadimfadhley

Never Miss Any Goodness

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  • Christina says:

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post.

    I put it on my blog but I see that there is no pingback.

    Blessings to you!


  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Christina. I don't understand stuff like pingbacks – that's for my techno son to figure out. Thanks for putting it on your blog.

  • @feleciagonz says:

    thanks for the encouragement!

  • Elaine says:

    I strive for viewing all things through the "lens of faith" but so often I fall short. It's one of my greatest challenges in life – to stop making assumptions and to rope in my knee-jerk reactions. I am thankful for the Father's faithfulness and care in this area; at times, I feel a catch in my spirit, "Wait…this is not what you think it is. Wait. " Not always easy to do but waiting is a gift because it allows me to ask the Lord for help and to listen for His answer.

    James 1:19-26 is a great help as it instructs me in being a doer of the world which will focus my faith lens.

  • saraandfam says:

    A very timely post for my family. I will definitely share this – you put into words what I wish I could! Thanks for shepherding our souls out here in cyber space as well as on Sundays :)

  • Briana says:

    This is very much what God is teaching me to do currently…look past the surface. I'm finding it to be a work of self control and discipline of my thoughts and some days, that work is harder to do than other days. TOday was a harder day, but I am grateful to be freshly encouraged by this post. I want to be found faithful and be communicating the truth of who GOd is in my life to others, especially my kiddos.

  • Caroline says:

    I am always encouraged as i read ur post at the end of the day, (at work ( 5:17 pm).And especially here as I have been at this job for over two years now and its been difficult, as regards my career. Sometime having thoughts like, "Did I do my masters for this kinda job?", "How long is God gonna keep me here?", "This is gonna go on forever!!!!" then like you said to see through God's eyes, to go back to scripture and align my thoughts according to Him, only then will I see His purpose.

    Thank you so much for the daily encouragement. Grateful for one thing at my job, I can access your blog freely ;)

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Sara,

    I'm glad this encouraged you! I'll try to keep being a good cyber-shepherd!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hi Briana,

    You are so right – this is a work of self-control and discipline. I have to keep at it myself – daily.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hi Caroline,

    I'm grateful the Lord would use our blog to encourage you. You are right – God has a purpose for you, and he won't miss it! He is fulfilling it every single moment of every day.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hi Elaine, sorry I missed your comment earlier. I like this: "Wait…this is not what you think it is. Wait." That is so often what I need to do as well. I hope I think of this next time I encounter something that doesn't appear "good" on the surface.

  • Rhonda says:

    Thank you. I needed to read this today.


  • mvaltrogge says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    I'm grateful the Lord would use this to encourage you. Thanks for telling me.

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