“God, if you are real, please show me.”
He was desperate. In prison. Hopeless. His life was a mess and he figured he’d give God a chance. If God even existed, that is.
So he prayed. And waited. And looked for signs of God.
There were no answers written on the sky. But slowly God brought people and circumstances and books to open his eyes. A random cell mate reading a Christian book from Christian Library International passed it along. Which led to a Bible study. And a mentor through CLI.
Soon he knew. Beyond any doubt. This God that he had heard about was indeed real. And had called him out of darkness into light. And the world would never be the same again.
As I listened to the speaker, now out of prison and serving in full-time ministry, I was both grateful and amazed.
Grateful that God calls us through no merits of our own. And that He uses people and circumstances and ministries to show us His truth.
Amazed that I had spoken those very words to God the night before He revealed Himself to me. My story was very different but my words were spoken out of desperation as well. Life wasn’t turning out the way I wanted. My days seemed meaningless. My many questions unanswerable.
God couldn’t be real, I had assumed. I had given up believing in God a long time before. There was little evidence of Him in my world.
My life had been difficult.
I contracted polio as an infant in India and lived in and out of Canadian hospitals for much of my childhood. I spent months on end living on a hospital ward, isolated from my parents, my sister, and my peers. By age 13, I had endured 21 operations.
While hospital life was lonely, it was less painful than the constant bullying that I experienced in the real world. Nearly every day I heard the word “cripple.” Through elementary and middle school, I buried the hurt of that teasing deep, yet it constantly whispered to me that I didn’t count, that I didn’t belong, that I’d always be an outsider. I learned to stuff my feelings, to please others, to be the good girl on the outside, but inside I was a self-absorbed mess.
I grew up in the church, but I wanted nothing to do with this God that I heard about. But at the same my life had no joy, just bitterness and anger. I knew something was missing.
So one night, in the darkness, I cried out to Jesus. I wanted the issue settled. I wondered, is God really there? So I simply whispered, “God, if you are real, please show me.”
My question was sincere, and I waited for a response. Some indication that I’d been heard. When nothing happened, I rolled over and fell sleep, my suspicions confirmed.
When I woke the next day, I wondered if I’d get an answer. I didn’t expect to. But to cover my bases, I decided to read the Bible. Reaching over to my nightstand, I pulled out an unopened RSV translation that had sat there untouched for years.
Flipping aimlessly through the pages, I read whatever passages my eyes landed upon. They didn’t make sense. As usual. Leviticus had weird rules and Chronicles had endless pages of names. I was about to put the Bible away, convinced that God indeed was not real, when I stopped to ask a question.
“Why did all of this happen to me? If you are so loving, why did I get polio? Why have I had to struggle my whole life? How can You possibly be good?” I thumbed through the Bible one last time looking for answers.
It fell open to the Gospel of John and I began reading at John 9:
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-3 RSV)
Jesus’ explanation was a little different than the disciples’ question: they were focusing on the cause of this man’s disability while Jesus spoke to the purpose behind it. According to Jesus, this wasn’t a punishment or even random misfortune. It had been planned all along by God.
Those words took my breath away. God was answering me. Arrogant, self-pitying, angry me was being answered by the God of the universe.
My suffering had a purpose: to bring glory to God.
To some, those words may seem puzzling. Maybe even disturbing. But when they are spoken to you by the God of the universe, those words change everything.
It was the most amazing moment of my life. I will never forget it. Even now, as I remember that morning, it brings me to tears.
Just as God opened the eyes of a blind man to bring glory to Himself, God was opening my eyes. For the first time, I could see Him. Sense His presence. Understand He was real.
I closed my Bible and knelt down by the side of my bed. As the sun streamed into my room, I committed my life to a God I didn’t know but was certain knew me.
He had created me for a purpose – to bring Him glory. And all that I had endured in my life was to accomplish that end.
God, who knew me, and each of us before the foundation of the world, calls us uniquely. Not based on anything we have done but based solely on His irresistible grace.
And this call often begins with Him answering a simple prayer. Not a theological or learned one. Just a sincere cry.
So if you’re reading this post and don’t know Jesus, I’d humbly ask you to consider praying, “God if you are real, please show me.”
And then look around to see how He is answering you.