What are you looking at? We can tell what we’ve been gazing at by the state of our heart. Another way to say it is, “What are you magnifying?” Let’s face it, some things in life (well, most things actually) won’t get better by us just ignoring it or only focusing on happy thoughts. We actually do need to deal with them, but we need the right perspective and to magnify the right things.
I don’t know about the kind of relationship your family has with bugs, but when my kids were small, bugs were things to catch and keep as pets. I cannot tell you the number of times I would be looking for a piece of tupperware only to find it in the backyard with some dead critter and some dried up grass. It used to be so annoying to me. Probably not as annoying as the time I found one piece of tupperware with the words ‘hermit crab bathtub’ written in Sharpie when I got home from a night out. I mean, I guess I’m glad it was labeled and I didn’t use it to store something edible ever again, but – SERIOUSLY? The thing is, the handwriting bore a strong resemblence to my husband’s, but I’ll leave that one alone for now. Anyway, we finally decided to invest in a nice bug container complete with a magnifying glass lid. Awesome right? Well, unless it gets left in the hot sun. I cannot tell you how many poor bugs met their demise in that container that had accidently been left outside.
This is kind of like we do with our problems so many times. We magnify them and think about them without the proper vantage point and like those bugs, we burn out and wonder why. If we magnify the wrong thing or magnify them from the wrong vantage point we can’t expect to have a healthy perspective. We will wear out and the life will be sucked right out of us. The thing is, the problem the bugs had was not that there was a magnifying glass on the lid, but the problem for them was the hot sun. Their problem was magnified and ultimately toasted them. They would have been just fine inside, but outside in the hot sun – not so much.
Just last week, we had a situation where I felt a consuming sense of failure and fear. I was so tempted to go down the road of, “What have I been doing?”, “This situation is hopeless.”, “I am stuck and don’t know what to do,” and all of those other things that go through our mind when things happen differently than we have been evisioning them. There are a million moments like that in momhood, wifehood, careerhood and any other hood you’re in. So many times those thoughts consume my day and I just feel that I can’t shake them, but last week as those thoughts bombarded mind, I heard the Lord so tenderly say, “Hopeless thoughts are never from me.” I was sitting in the hot sun with my problems without His perspective. That’s pretty huge if you think about it. Profound, but so obvious! He is not a God of hopelessness, so if we’re living with a hopeless mindset, we must be focusing on the wrong thing. Any time we’re living with a mindset that is not from Him, we don’t have to live there. This is true in the big situations as well as the small. I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes the bigger situations in life – you know the ones where you’re backed into a corner and you can’t move – BUT God? Those ones are easier for me to hand over to Him and look to Him for hope. Not because I’m so spiritual, but what else are you going to do when you can’t see a way out?
We’ve been through enough big things (a stillborn daughter, an almost failed business, diagnosis of a potentially life-altering genetic disease, church crisis times 2 in 2 different churches) for me to say with complete confidence that God is ALWAYS there and able to make sense of hard things. He is so able to work ALL things for the good of those that love Him that I wouldn’t trade one of those experiences for litereally anything because of what I’ve found out to be true about Him through those times. Even Tyler, was talking about being thankful for his fall because of some things that have come out of it. He is learning the faithfulness of God in hard situations. Those are by far a greater treasure than if we had miraculously never had to walk those roads. For me, the harder things to hand over are smaller things. Song of Solomon says that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. I have found that this is true of our thoughts. Sometimes it’s the smaller situations where we’re caught off-guard. Those are the situations that steal our joy sometimes daily. Especially hard for me are things where I feel I have failed or would have done something differently if I had the chance.
Anyway, for me, that was such an amazing statement that God whispered to my heart. Hopelessness is NEVER from Him. I was able to clearly see that a lot of the thoughts running through my mind were condemnation and shame speaking. When I said “no” to those thoughts hope began to flood my mind. We found a simple solution to the problem and this week the problem that seemed insurmountable isn’t much of a problem. The problem isn’t gone by any means, but I am excited to see what God’s answer is because I know He has one. The enemy was trying to take my day by giving me a magnifying glass to focus on the situation.
Whenever we’re tempted to magnify the problem, we need to begin to magnify God in the situation. Actually, problems are an opportunity to magnify God in our lives and watch Him act on our behalf! There is no testimony without a problem, right? All of the good stories people have about God, usually center around Him being the answer to something insurmountable in their life. Sometimes I think we don’t realize that God ALWAYS has an answer. He ALWAYS does – not sometimes. It may not be the answer we were thinking, but He always has provision for our heart. There is always joy and peace to be had even in the midst of the most tragic circumstances, but also in our small ones. It comes down to who or what are we going to magnify? Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think on these things. This does not mean that we just ignore bad things in our life and act like they don’t exist, but we allow God into the situation. It’s not lovely or true to think, “This money situation is never going to get any better, there is no way out and I am such a failure.” It is lovely and true to say, “This money situation seems insurmountable, but God, I know you own the cattle on a thousand hills and You hold me in the palm of Your hand.” Of course, we need to manage our money well and be wise, but He holds us even in our mistakes and so many times He uses them to teach us and we in turn can help others. It’s not lovely or true to think, “I am such a failure as a mother. I am going to mess up my kids.” It is lovely and true to say, “Wow Lord, I really am not handling this particular situation well with my kids. Please do what You need to do in me so that I speak life to my children. I know that You can change me and even those things that I have done that have hurt them, You can use in their lives. Help me teach them to come to You in their brokeness as I come to You in mine.” It is not true or lovely to say, “My marriage is hopeless. Nothing will ever change.” It is lovely and true to say, “Lord, my marriage seems pretty hopeless to me, but I know that You can change hearts. You can help me to see my person as You do. I know that You can change both me and my spouse and that ultimately You want my marriage not only to survive, but thrive even more than I do.” This is true for every single situation we’re in no matter what it is. There is our own limited view and then there is God’s view. We want His view. Our view is crushing, His is full of hope. He is the life bringer and hope giver.
David modeled this over and over in the Psalms. He was constantly pouring out his heart to God, but if you look closely, he always ended with BUT God. He then went on to declare Who God is. ‘But God’ was the secret to his strength. Look at how he defeated Goliath. Other’s were focusing on Goliath’s strength and could not muster up the courage to fight him. David, on the otherhand, was incredulous that anyone would defy God. Of course, God could and would win in his mind. David focused on God, but the others focused on Goliath. David didn’t ignore Goliath or act as if he wasn’t there, He focused on God and who He was in that situation. God was bigger than Goliath in his mind and that is what was true. To the rest of the men on that battle field, Goliath was huge and God was small. They had the wrong perspective and it was a lie. We can do the very same thing in any situation we’re in.
In our situation last week, do you know what happened? As soon as I recognized the truth that the hopelessness wasn’t from Him, it opened up my heart to be able to hear what He was actually saying and to hear His solution. It was more of a next step type of solution rather than the whole solution, but I know He’s showing us what to do. I am actually able to hear Him so much more clearly and keep peace of mind in the middle of it! Amazing! God knows what to do – weird, huh? Why is it so easy to forget that? Whatever situation you find yourself feeling hopeless about today, know that the hopelessness is not from Him. Those thoughts are not truth coming from Him. He knows exactly what to do and is never hopeless about our situations. How amazing that God, who knows the beginning and end of all things, is fighting for us, is our Advocate, knows us intimately and is impossibly wise, and cares about every situation we are in or face in our life! Let’s magnify the Lord and not our situations. Let’s magnify Him IN our situations.
Psalm 42:5 Why am I discouraged, why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God. I will praise Him again.
Psalm 34:3 O MAGNIFY THE LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces SHALL NEVER BE ASHAMED. This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his trouble. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!