…the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), walking home after her encounter with Jesus. What must she have been thinking?
…Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector, coming to your door to return the money he owed you—plus four times more (Luke 19:1-10). What would have been your reaction?
…how it felt to be Joseph Barsabbas, the candidate not chosen to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26). How might he have responded?
These are just three out of thirty-five scenarios Jon Bloom explores in his book, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith (Crossway Books, 2013). Indeed, they are fresh, creative takes on familiar Bible stories.
And although quite short, just three pages or so in length, each vignette still gives plenty of food for thought. I found them to be compelling, insightful, and instructive—encouraging my walk of faith.
One of my favorites is “Staying Faithful When Things Get Worse.” Jon imagines what Joseph must have been thinking as a falsely accused prisoner in Egypt. For at least twelve years he endured the hellish conditions and tormenting hopelessness. Those should have been the best years of Joseph’s life—his youth. Many would have said, “What a waste.”
Imagine year nine, Jon suggests. Surely Joseph fought against depression and discouragement, even as he recited to himself the promises of God. No doubt he reviewed in his mind the stories of his ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and even those of his own father, Jacob.
Jon Bloom imagines Joseph affirming repeatedly that, just as God had been faithful to them, he would be faithful to Joseph. Each patriarch had faced situations that seemed impossible.
Abraham and Sarah were much too old to have a child.
The older brother, Esau, would never serve his younger brother, Jacob–even if the age difference between twins was slight. That promise of God went against all tradition and logic.
Jacob was a poor runaway. He couldn’t possibly become a wealthy herdsman.
But each man and his family had been blessed, just as God had promised. Why? They remained faithful. Yes, they made mistakes and failed to obey God on occasion. But they never turned their backs on him, even when circumstances turned bleak.
Jon Bloom also imagines Joseph reaffirming his faith in God and his willingness to wait for him to act. Meanwhile, he would continue to honor God, even within prison walls.
As Jon brings the vignette to a close, he shares fresh application:
Even in the care of Almighty God, circumstances may get worse, not better. “Faith in God’s future grace for us is what sustains us in those desperate moments,” Jon says. Our hope is best placed in God, in his promises, and especially the assurance of eternal bliss in heaven yet to come.
Jon Bloom perfectly fulfills the role of a writer, as defined by Anais Nin, American author of the twentieth century: “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”
Page after page, this is what Jon Bloom did for me. No doubt he will do the same for you.