As Christians we often talk about walking by faith and not by sight. This popular phrase comes from Second Corinthians 5:7. We typically use that expression to encourage each other when life is hard and doesn’t make sense. Sometimes we refer to this verse when we are not sure which decision to make when facing two choices. Walking by anything other than sight is difficult because we rely on our vision to help us navigate our steps in life.
There are some courses in life that we can walk without our sight. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can stumble into the kitchen and get myself a glass of water without having to turn on the lights. That is because I know the path from my bed to the sink like the back of my hand. But when we talk about walking by faith rather than sight we might conjure up images of walking around blindfolded, as it were, with our arms outstretched, feeling our way around. However, I don't think that was the image the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote those words.
The imagery should not be of a person who is unable to see, and thus relying on faith. As long as we can reach our hands out in front of us and feel anything in our path, we can get by even without sight. I believe the image that Paul wanted to paint is that of a person walking by faith in spite of their sight. It isn't that we can't see, it is that what we can see can deceive us. Walking by faith then means we are trusting in something else besides our vision. When it looks like a door is wide open, we might have to act as if it is closed. Conversely, when it appears that there is a brick wall right in front of us, God might call us to walk right through it. Our sight tells us it is impossible, but in faith we learn to rely on God rather than our sight.
In context, Paul is talking about the future resurrection of believers. Let's look at the verse with the two verses that surround it: “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord (v.6-8).” The situation in which we must walk by faith rather than sight deals with the fact that we currently live in our physical, earthly bodies, and yet we believe that one day we will live in glorified bodies. That may be a difficult concept for us to truly wrap our minds around, but we must take it in faith.
Wrapped up in this promise is everything else associated with our eternal state. More than just having a glorified body, this passage belies the fact that we will one day be free from sickness and suffering, disease and death. Believing in this promise can make life a little easier when things are difficult. When all we see is negativity, we can put our sight aside and walk by faith, holding on to these dear promises that God will one day make everything right.