The Power of a Photograph

by | Oct 22, 2023 | Comfort, Hope, Peace, Power

My four-year-old granddaughter had a peculiar bedtime habit whenever she stayed here overnight. She’d soothe her fretful whimpers by clutching a photograph of her mother, which she borrowed from my bookshelf. This item was anything but cuddly. It was a wooden five-by-seven-inch plaque on which was mounted her mom’s graduation picture.

Why would this preschooler prefer a hard, unyielding object rather than a soft, cuddly toy? Obviously, it’s because the photo gave her comforting thoughts: Her mom would not abandon her. Her mom was coming back for her. With this vivid picture in her mind, the child could sleep peacefully while away from home.

Now, consider the spiritual parallel: As God’s children, our earthly pilgrimage is also like an overnight stay. No matter how adventurous it is, we anticipate being home. Like the apostle Paul, we “would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”(2 Corinthians 5:8b NIV)We, too, expect Someone to come and get us eventually. “We wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13 NIV).

Somehow, we must keep this grand hope alive. We must “turn [our] eyes upon Jesus”, as the familiar hymn declares, much like the little girl turned her mind upon her mother.

Let’s be honest and ask: How are we doing at keeping our eyes turned upon Christ? What “photograph” comes to our mind when we try? Is it little more than a foggy blur? What should we expect to see, really?

To answer such profound questions, I tried to put myself into the mind of my little granddaughter. Really, how can a dusty old photograph have such power? What did she really see of her mom? It certainly wasn’t her mom’s graduation event; she never experienced that. Obviously, it was what she actually experienced of her mom day after day through their relationship. For four years, the child had experienced her mother’s love, trustworthiness, attention, provision, protection, and much more. Even if the child couldn’t express it, that’s what she saw in her mother. Such a picture was powerful enough to settle her fears. Put bluntly, it’s the relationship itself that gave power to the photograph.

Isn’t that how it is with Christ? Oh, sure, we can be uplifted through plaques, rituals, hymns, even Scripture texts. But all of these have limited power apart from a genuine abiding relationship. Our assurance must be forged through the experience of Christ’s presence in our lives. And then, when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, we’ll see much more than a fog. We’ll see Him for how we’ve come to know Him. And the better we know Him and grasp His love, the more powerful will be our mind’s picture of Him — and the better it can sustain us during this earthly overnight stay. Thus, we each pray:

Prayer: Lord, help me personally to discover the enormity of Your love, that I may have a powerful “photograph” of You in my mind’s eye. Amen.

Copyright © 2022, by Diane Eaton <>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional .
Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission


The Power of a Photograph