One of my favorite past-times during Christmas is the movies. I like the classics: White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (with Maureen O’Hara), A Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooge (with Albert Finney), and my relatively newest favorite, Polar Express.

I’m not exactly a supporter or a nay-sayer of Santa, and I’m not really going to discuss it here because that isn’t my present point. There are two parts of Polar Express that I really love.

1) When the conductor says: “Sometimes seeing is believing. And sometimes the most real things in life are the things you can’t see.”

2) And there’s the scene at the end. Our boy who’s been doubting the entire movie and fighting for something to hold on to finally reaches the North Pole. Everyone is cheering and exclaiming happiness at seeing the main attraction, Santa. But he can’t see him no matter how hard he tries. He sees the shiny silver bells bouncing on the reindeers’ harnesses but can’t hear their ringing.

Then a bell comes loose and soars toward him. The sound around him dims as he focuses in on the shiny bell as it lands at his feet. He bends down and lifts it slowly and this is where my throat starts tightening.

There he is in the middle of the biggest miracle of his life, but he isn’t truly a part of it. He can’t see Santa. He can’t hear the bells. Tears start welling in my eyes as he shakes the bell and still can’t hear it. Panic is clear on his face when he says tentatively and then questioningly that he believes. And then he closes his eyes and says: I believe.

Magically, a beautiful chiming rings in his ear.

Perhaps that sounds like a silly thing to cry over, but I’ve been in that spot. Only mine wasn’t so pretty or festive. I was dying for belief in the middle of an alcoholic and addict’s world. I was a ‘doubter’, fighting against the truth. I tried my own way. Then, finally, I sat in a heap of fear and longing, ringing a bell (or, more accurately, pleading a prayer) whose sound I desperately needed to reach the heavens.

And amazingly enough, it did. I’m not perfect now. I still fail, and always will. Honestly there are many times when I ‘pull out the bell’ that I don’t hear the ringing sound.

But God is faithful and just. He is loving and forgiving. Whether we think our prayers have reached the heavens or stopped at the ceiling, God does hear them.

Have you ever felt like that boy? Have you ever been, or are you now, wishing for belief and plagued by doubt? Do you feel that pain of being surrounded by believers whose faith seems to come so easily while you struggle?

Take heart. Valleys come, but there is always another side of them. Sometimes it takes a few days to reach it, and other times it takes years. But holding tight to faith in God will never fail.

Hebrews 11:6- And without faith it is impossible to please him(God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)

It’s a command followed by a promise. We believe and seek Him, and He will reward us.