“But it looks real.” My prayer hung in the air and the silence settled around me. This wasn’t the first time I had been in this situation. Staring down the lies and fears. Letting the “what ifs” swirl until my mind felt dizzy. Just like a shadowy figure cast on the wall can make the smallest creature seem terrifying, my situation loomed big and scary and impossible.
From all I could see, the cards were stacked against me. Going off my logic, I couldn’t SEE a victory. In fact, everything about this situation appeared doomed.
Yet, appearance and truth are two very different things. This distinction is why knowing the truth is such a valuable weapon.
Have you ever heard of the phrase “smoke and mirrors?” According to Wikipedia, “smoke and mirrors is a classic technique in magical illusions that makes an entity appear to hover in empty space.”
Or as the dictionary defines it, “smoke and mirrors is the obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information.”
Our natural instinct is to look at appearance. We as humans were designed to rely on our sight; our eyesight helps us look for danger, interpret interactions, and recognize our surroundings.
But what happens when our sight does not reveal reality?
Scripture mentions this idea quite often:
- 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”
- Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
- Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
There are even examples in the Bible of people’s literal sight deceiving them, such as the two men on the road to Emmaus where they did not recognize Jesus!
My favorite story though about appearance versus truth is in 2 Kings 6:15-18.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
Recently in a conversation, a friend made this statement to me, “What you have to remember is that all the devil has is smoke and mirrors.”
As a Christian, saved by the blood of Christ, the enemy has no authority in my life. While the warfare may be real, and we live in a battle- all the enemy has left to come against us with is smoke and mirrors.
Elisha’s servant was trusting the appearance of the situation, and he was a panicked, hopeless mess. They were surrounded on every side. The battle felt and looked real. Trusting his eyesight, his heart began to fear.
Yet, Elisha knew the TRUTH about the army staring him down. They might as well have been an illusion, because they had no authority and no power over him. Elisha learned to trust God’s protection as his reality. Not to mention, an army full of men seems a lot less intimidating, when you have horses and chariots of fire on your side.
“But it looks real.” I believe most of us are like Elisha’s servant, and that’s a pretty natural place to be. Personally, I have never seen chariots of fire or angels in physical form. Many of us may never see these things this side of heaven.
For most of us, we must live in the tension between what we SEE with our eyes (appearance) and the PROMISES of God (truth).
You see, as Christians we have access to the truth and authority through the Holy Spirit. We have the victory. The devil knows he is fighting a losing battle every time he comes against the children of God.
Smoke and mirrors are simply a distraction. All the taunts and lies of the enemy are shadows and illusion.
To clarify, the army the servant saw was real, but the threat and power it held was all based on his perception.
“But it looks real.” We all have times where we feel surrounded- and you may well be. But I wonder how much time I have spent cowering in fear and punching shadows that were merely distractions from what God had for me.
The thing about illusions is they aren’t real. The lies and threats of the enemy have no power against us. Our fears and anxieties come when we choose to trust our perception over the promises of God.
“But it looks real.” While my situation looked the same, my perception started to change. My anxiety melted in an instance as I declared the promise of God and called the enemy’s bluff. Fear has a funny way of contorting everyday objects into your worst nightmare. Just as I have learned to not fear the shadows I see at night; I’m learning to worry less about how my situation appears. Instead, I remember, all the devil has is smoke and mirrors.
Mercy Multiplied is a nonprofit Christian organization that equips people to live free and stay free through Jesus Christ. To learn more about our free-of-charge residential counseling program and Outreach Services visit our website at MercyMultiplied.com.