I attended a boarding school in Nigeria where the older students ruled over all of us younger students. Once, I misplaced a bowl that belonged to a rather cranky older student. Having been given the ultimatum to find and return the bowl by the next morning, I crawled into bed with a heart full of dread. I whispered a prayer asking God for help before dropping into a troubled sleep. Imagine my awe the next day when the bowl mysteriously showed up in the student’s drawer!

The Israelites must have experienced far greater awe when God parted the Red Sea for them to walk through and then defeated Pharaoh and his army by means of the same waters (Exodus 14:15-28; Hebrews 11:29). They sang to the Lord with joy-filled hearts about the glorious triumph they had witnessed (Exodus 15:1-21). For the first time, they must have embraced their freedom, knowing that slavery was now truly in their past. Yet in a short while they were complaining about bitter water (Exodus 15:24), and later they worshiped a golden calf instead of God as their deliverer (Exodus 32:4).

Encountering God’s intervention in life can be a thrilling experience. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about my “miracle” bowl, just as the Israelites broke out in song over God’s greatness. But what happens when answers to prayer aren’t so rapid or visible? Does God seem just as reliable, and are we still willing to trust Him—or do we seek other gods?

True faith can be enhanced by mountaintop experiences. And as the writer of Hebrews wrote, “It is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6). But the faith that pleases God is based on things that aren’t visible (Hebrews 11:1). Real faith helps us trust in the God who holds on to us.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 25:31-46