The idea of ‘walk[ing] by faith, not by sight ‘ (5:7) often seems to suggest something about keeping going in trust when we’re not sure where life is taking us. There’s certainly a time for that, but it doesn’t seem to be what Paul had in mind here.
When Paul writes to contrast faith and sight, it’s not to suggest that when we can’t see, we still have a guide in faith. Rather, it’s to call us to look beyond what sight shows us. Those words come in a passage with many contrasts. We have the treasure of God’s life, but it’s held in our lives as if in earthenware pots rather than jeweled caskets. The more we are at home in the world, the more we are away from God. We look beyond visible things to eternal things unseen.
So faith doesn’t just go further than sight. Faith sees through and beyond what is clear to sight, and so gives us the vision to live in the light of truth. And part of that truth is the reality of judgement, that each of us will stand before Jesus to give account of how we’ve lived. (5:10) Faith, not sight, know that every action, every moment, matters – whether or not any human eye sees.
Faith isn’t always a source of comfort. It’s always a source of strength, but often by challenging us to go beyond what we can see and even against what looks like our best interest. What does your faith see that your eyes might miss?