“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.” Joni Eareckson Tada
We have all heard the expression “perception is reality.” What it means is that for others, be they your peers, subordinates, or superiors, how they perceive something or somebody is reality to them. We all face many challenges and struggles in this life that can discourage us and rob us of true joy. There are times it seems that such discouragement will overwhelm us completely. These type struggles are reality to us.
How can we gain a new perspective when we are faced with difficult times? I love the perspective of Joni Eareckson Tada above, a great Christian speaker and author, who suffered a life altering injury years ago, that left her as quadriplegic. What changed her perspective in how she sees life? The only way that Joni found the right perspective was in the person of Jesus Christ.
What about Corrie Ten Boom, a great Christian and author, who survived the Holocaust confined to a Nazi prison camp during World War II? Through all of that suffering she held onto a different perspective. She said: “With Jesus, even in our darkest moments the best remains and the very best is yet to be…”
What about our perspective? How are we dealing with the challenges of life? There are times that I honestly struggle with having the right perspective when trouble arises. The perspectives of Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Eareckson Tada have helped me a lot in these times.
However, my real source of strength for gaining a new perspective is found with great reminders from God’s Word. There are two great principles that I want to give you that I pray will help us change our perspective. Those principles are:
We need to stop focusing on the size of our problem and instead focus on how big our God is - Jesus told us in John 16:33: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus told us that we would face difficulties in this life but He assured us that He is bigger than anything we will ever face. There is nothing that He cannot overcome.
We must recognize that God does have better days ahead for us - “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
Paul reminds us that better days are not only ahead but also more than we could ever imagine! I pray that the truths of these passages will encourage us today to help gain the perspective God desires for us to have.
2 Chronicles 19:9
I am so grateful to God for giving me two of the Godliest and most loving parents a child could ever ask for. They gave me a lot of instruction and much of it I have never forgotten. I will always remember a very powerful lesson that my mother taught me when I was about 5 years old.
This lesson occurred on vacation when my mother had taken me down to the ocean for a swim. We had to cross a very busy street on foot. My mother instructed me to hold her hand and to not move until she told me to. On that day, I was barefoot having just come from the beach. My feet began to hurt fiercely from the heat to the point that I could not stand waiting any longer. Immediately, I let go of my mother’s hand and darted across the street. I narrowly avoided being hit by a car. Looking back, I know that my protection that day was the providence of God.
I know that I had scared my mother to death. However, my mother’s emotions quickly swung from relief that I was not hurt to anger at me for disobeying. I got a spanking that I will never forget but I also got instruction that has lasted me a lifetime. My mother shared with me then and since then how much she loves me and how important it is that I obey. That incident taught me how important it is to hold on to what is important and always act a certain way. It taught the importance of obedience and faithfulness. I have never forgotten the lessons of that day.
- Always act in the fear of the Lord
- Be faithful
- Have an undivided heart
You see, once we learn to fear the Lord then we must daily act in that manner. It is not enough to say that I fear the Lord and be done with the statement. We must daily be in His Word and spend time with Him so that we will always act in the fear of the Lord. If we take in God’s Word daily and allow it to permeate our lives, it will change the way we act. God can change us to the point that we will “always act in the fear of the Lord.”
Next, we are instructed to be faithful. As I mentioned earlier, a healthy fear of my mother helped me in the future to learn to be faithful to what she asked me to do. It was fear that was birthed out of love for her. The same holds true of our relationship with God. When we learn to fear Him, we will love Him so much that we will desire to be faithful.
Finally, the fear of the Lord and a love for the Lord will lead us to where we can have an undivided heart. The instruction from King Jehosophat is clear. We are to have an undivided heart so that our passion, our loyalty, our love, and our devotion are to God and God alone. King Jehosophat’s instructions are so powerful. I pray that these will be instructions that we will never forget.
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.” Romans 12:14,17
We all have been hurt by different people in our lifetime. Sometimes we have even been hurt by those we have called friends and family. Some of those hurts are often the most painful. The instinct for us when we have been hurt or ridiculed is to strike back or as the verse says above to “pay back evil with more evil.”
Our culture tells us to be mad, hold a grudge, and get even if possible. However, in the verses above, Jesus is calling us to a different standard. The ability to bless those who hurt us is counter-cultural thinking. How is that even possible? It is possible because as Christians the Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit of God lives within each of us making it possible for us to live and react differently in these situations than most people.
If we will allow the Holy Spirit to lead and control our lives, then He will fill our hearts with too much love to hate others and hold grudges. Romans 12:17 goes on to command us to “do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.” In other words, God is instructing us to rise above what has been done to us so that others might the see the love of Jesus in our lives.
You might be thinking this is all well and good for a goal but does the Bible really understand what has happened to me. I want to remind you the verses in Romans 12 were written by a man who understood hurt and being wrongfully treated. The Apostle Paul had been beaten, stoned, and thrown in prison for living the Christian life. Paul understood what it meant to respond in a way that would honor God instead of seeking to get even.
Romans 12:18 also declares: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” God is teaching us to respond to anger and hurt in a different manner. It is not natural to what the world expects but it is what the Lord would have us to do.
I have also learned over the years that getting even, holding a grudge, or staying angry is not a good thing for me physically or spiritually. I have found that this type of response only hurts me over the long haul. There is an anonymous quote that has helped me with my approach in handling hurt and anger.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
I pray God will use the truths of these verses to help those of you today that find yourselves amid some hurt you may be experiencing.
“So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16
We live in a world that can be dangerous. To understand this, you need look no further than the local news to see some of the tragedies that befall so many in our communities. Because of this inherent danger, we go to great lengths to protect our houses and cars with alarm systems. As well, we provide protection for our families with weapons or self-defense training. These types of protections are all well and good but what about protecting our hearts and souls?
What are we doing to protect the most important relationships of our lives? How are we guarding our hearts? One of the greatest dangers we and our families face every day is in our homes and at our fingertips. That danger I believe comes in various forms through the devices we use every day. The internet has so many great uses for our daily lives but with it comes inherent dangers if we do not guard our hearts and those of our children.
Paul tells us in the verse above to “be on guard and stay alert”. He says something very similar in 1 Peter 5:8 when he says: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
I am convinced that if we do not stay alert and protect ourselves then the enemy will use our devices and the internet to do much harm to our families. What can we do to keep the enemy from devouring us as 1 Peter says when it comes to the internet and our devices?
One of the most important ways in which we can protect ourselves and our families from the dangers of technology is to provide complete accountability with all our devices. What I mean by this is to set some simple rules regarding the use of devices that will provide accountability and protection. Rules such as:
All devices in the home are kept in view of all in the family. In other words, devices cannot be kept in bedrooms where children can have access to the internet unsupervised.
Parents have access to each other’s passwords and passwords to all their children’s devices so that accountability can be maintained.
Provide for a strong filtering system in your home that will keep your children and yourself from accessing destructive material.
Providing these simple measures of accountability could save us all a lot of heartache. I pray that we would all realize just how much we must “stay alert” and “watch out for our great enemy”.