Solipsism is the theory that you can prove the existence only of what you can experience. You know the Internet exists because you’re using it to read this column. You know your hands exist because you can see them on your electronic device.
You’re thinking this is an absurd way to look at the world, and you’re right. But it’s actually how most of us experience most of life. Consider four examples in the news.
One: The National Governors Association is trying to curb the growing heroin epidemic. What caused this crisis? According to experts, limits on prescription painkillers have driven millennial Anglos to street drugs, with disastrous consequences.
Two: Declining oil prices are supposed to produce rising stock markets, yet both have been falling in recent months. Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, explains: A declining global economy has hurt demand for oil and corporate profits.
Three: Russia’s incursion into Syria was supposed to mean lessened hostilities in Ukraine. But conflict there has accelerated sharply as Russia shows its surprising willingness to fight on two fronts at once.
Four: When reformer Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in India, the people cheered. But the rate of reform has been slow, so protesters have now sabotaged water pumping equipment that serves Delhi and its twenty million residents.
Curbing drugs causes drug overdoses; oil and stock prices are conjoined; Russia is willing to fight two wars; people are undermining the reformer they elected. What we see is not all there is.
Similarly, spiritual solipsism says God is what we experience him to be. If you haven’t seen a miracle, you won’t. If God hasn’t answered your prayer, he won’t. Seeing is believing.
The truth is, when we stop believing, we stop seeing.
Our Father always does what his children ask or whatever is best. We have not because we ask not (James 4:2) or because we ask for the wrong reasons (v. 3). When we believe that Jesus still walks on water, stills storms, heals lepers, and raises the dead, we see what we believe. C. S. Lewis was right: “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling ‘darkness’ on the wall of his cell.”
David testified, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). Note that God did not deliver him from all his enemies. He would still face murderous King Saul, Philistine armies, rebellion from his own sons, and decades of conflict and turmoil. But when David sought God, he found deliverance from the fears that plagued his soul. For he knew that whatever came, whether in life or in death, “the Lord is good!” (v. 8).
So don’t believe spiritual solipsism. God is greater than you and I can see or even imagine him to be. John Wesley: “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.” A. W. Pink adds, “Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God’s majesty.”
How happy is your soul today?