"That very day two of [Jesus' disciples] were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him." - Luke 24:13-16
There are a handful of times in the Gospels after Jesus' resurrection where His closest friends don't recognize Him. I always thought that was a little strange. How could they not recognize Him? I think that it would be hard not to recognize someone you had spent the past three years with, especially someone that you believed to be the Son of God—the Messiah.
But, how many times in our life are we are walking along with Jesus and don't recognize him, just like Jesus' disciples on the road to Emmaus? Think about it.
During the hard times, when we feel so alone, we look up to Heaven and question whether God cares or if He's even there. We trudge along, dragging our crosses, defeated and irritated. But in actuality, He's walking faithfully beside us and helping us to carry our crosses, just like He promised He would.
Why is it so hard to see Him in those moments? What keeps our eyes from recognizing Him?
It could be pride, self-reliance, comparison, or a lack of faith and trust. Maybe it's the people you are spending your time with, or the lies that fill you head...the list goes on and on. How can we learn to recognize Him walking beside us during those hard times?
Here are a few ways that we can begin to recognize the Lord walking with us during the difficult times in our life:
1. We have to believe that we have a God who is real, who loves us, and who is worthy of our trust. He is good and he keeps His promises. If He says He is going to be there, He is going to be there. End of story. We're not going to remember this all the time, but this is the constant Truth that we need to remember and fall back on.
2. We have to be looking for Him. He is always there, but He has a quiet persistent presence beside us. If we are constantly looking inward or filling our ears with our own voice, we are not going to be able to recognize Him there with us.
3. We have to be open to what He wants to teach us. In every difficult time, there is something to learn and ways to grow, even if it seems like the smallest suffering. In order to grow, we have to be open to what the Lord is doing in our lives. By believing that God does want the best for us and trying to find Him in every situation, we will be more open and more aware of what He is trying to teach us.
It is not always easy. Sometimes I've dragged my cross down the road, completely unaware of the Lord walking next to me. I knew He had a plan, but I wasn't seeking Him out for comfort and help. When I reached the end, I realized how foolish I was that I didn't notice His presence. He was with me the whole time and I didn't even see.
But even in those times, I learn a lesson. The Lord won't stop walking with me. He loves me even still and desires my heart. He won't stop pursuing me and He won't stop pursuing you either!
I challenge you to recognize Him on the road with you, especially as we are nearing the end of the semester and all that will entail. There are finals, stress, deadlines, sleepless nights, big sister sufferings, little sufferings—do not be afraid. He is there and desires to reveal Himself to you.