Unseen Footprints

During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

It is doubtful that there are many people who are unaware of the famous (although unattributed) poem Footprints in the Sand. The closing line (above) reminds us that when we feel alone, we are never truly alone for God is with us. That single set of footprints belong to God who carries us. 

I was reading through Psalm 77 today, though, and there’s an even more startling teaching about faith that caught my attention. The Psalm is not one of David’s, but rather Asaph. It is a Psalm for troubled hearts. It begins…

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearing; my soul refuses to be comforted. I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints. (Psalm 77:1-3, NRSV)

Who hasn’t had a sleepless night calling out to God? We can identify with this immediately. The rest of the Psalm continues through the night as the writer ruminates over his questions about God. He thinks about the mighty things that God has done, concluding…

You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples. With your strong arm you redeemed your people …. (Psalm 77:14, 15a, NRSV)

Then a moment of faith … 

Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen. (Psalm 77:19, NRSV)

It’s one thing to look back and see that single set of footprints in the sand. It’s another to look forward and backward, and see no footprints at all. In the writer’s remembrance of the Exodus and particularly the crossing of the Red Sea one cannot help but see the amazing works of God. But no footprints…

Maybe God has been at work in your life in amazing ways, but you’ve been so busy trying to fight your way through your troubles on your own that you failed to notice. Have you called out to God throughout watches of the night only to hear …. nothing in return? Are you looking around for evidence that God is near but there’s not a single footprint to demonstrate that He is?

Faith calls us to continue on in our walk with God, even if we cannot see (for now) what He is up to. It’s encouraging to see the footprint in the sand; it’s disconcerting when it is not visible.

…We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18, NRSV)

Whether you see the footprints of God … or not … trust that He is there. 

Thanks for reading, JD

8 Comments

  1. John,
    Thank you for such appropriate and timely words from God. We started my mom on Hospice this past week and while the support from them is fantastic and I know Mom is eager for her reward in heaven it is a difficult time. God bless you for your ministry to the grieving…I know it came at a very heartbreaking cost to you.
    Love,
    Linda

  2. Linda, I’m so sorry to read this…what a difficult road you’re on … I know you have faith to see it through, but I also know there are some really hard struggles on the way. Bless you friend…will be in prayer.

  3. Thank you! Two sons in one year….along with a sister in law and 3 very dear friends…..yes…it makes you stand guard….waiting for next shoe to fall! Numbness comes over you…..then out of nowhere…..tears take you to your knees! Thanks be to God for His strength!
    LOVED THIS BLOG POST!
    God bless you and yours!

  4. Thank you for the, John. It is a beautiful reminder of God’s love and faithfulness. We all have down times, and it’s good to be reminded that God is always with us during those times.

  5. Karen, I’m glad you found that reminder … yes, we all need it.. those ‘down times’ come more often than we sometimes expect.

  6. Thank you Lee… you can testify sister… it’s impossible to walk in another’s path, but I feel for you. It is true that ‘tears take you to your knees’… yes…and that is where we meet God’s presence. Bless you.

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