When I look around, I can’t help but notice all of the weariness around me. This weariness seeps into our lives through circumstances and the wear and tear of life. I won’t go into all that makes us weary. We all already know and we know what is making US weary at the moment. I’ve talked to enough people recently to know that I am not the only one.
I don’t know about you, but I have had a hard time looking up the past little bit and lifting my gaze higher. Reading my Bible has been about as exciting as reading a shampoo bottle, I find my mind wandering when I would usually be lost in worship, I typically read one book a week and my mind has been so hard to pin down, I get bored after a page of any book.
There are so many things going on around me that I have been like Peter looking at the stormy water rather than the outstretched hand of Jesus. My eyes have been blind to the provision in the desert like Hagar was until God opened her eyes. I know that God is near, but I have been functioning as if He is not. Circumstances have been big and God has been small, because that’s what always happens when we shift our gaze from Him to our circumstances. Once our eyes are redirected from Him, we become weary and swallowed by the things that surround us. I need a perspective change. I’ve noticed that it’s actually pretty easy to tell when my eyes have been on the wrong thing because it seems like some key things happen when they are.
Here are some ways I’ve noticed I can know if I need to refocus on the One who holds my life in His hands.
1)I have lost my joy. Nehemiah 8:10 For the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Strength and joy go hand in hand. The true joy that comes from God gives us the strength to face even the most difficult situations. I have both seen it in others, experienced it and read about it in the stories of others who have gone through difficult things. Sometimes we wrongly assume that circumstances need to change before we can experience joy but our God is a Master at providing in the wilderness. He did it all the time throughout the Bible and He will do it for us internally and in our present circumstances. If there is no strength, there is no joy. Joy in Who God is and trust in what He can do is what gives us the strength we need.
2)I find myself complaining. I Thessalonians 5:18-19 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
Complaining is a sure way for us to know that we are focusing on the wrong thing. The Israelites complained. and complained. and complained some more. God wanted to give them so much, but He couldn’t because they kept looking at the circumstances they were facing and forgetting about what God had done. What they didn’t know was that their circumstances were preparing them for so much. They never saw it. They only saw the desert they were in and that is where they stayed. Every time they came to an obstacle, they would respond in fear. When they saw the giants of the Promised Land, they forgot the Red Sea. They forgot the God Who had miraculously delivered them and believed (at least functionally) that they were on their own. If we find ourselves complaining about our circumstances, we need to remember. Remember the times that God has answered. Remember the times we have seen Him come through. Remember that this God Who holds the Universe holds our life and can certainly handle our problems and situations no matter how large. We can’t see the whole picture now, but we will. If we are His, we are not on our own – ever, and his intentions toward us are good.
This isn’t saying that we should say that all things are good when they are not. God desires honesty. There is a difference between honesty and complaining.
Ephesians 2:5-7 (NASB) 5 even when we were dead [a]in our transgressions, made us alive together [b]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus
3)I find myself worrying a lot and praying little. I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
If we’re worrying about our situation more than or rather than praying, we will definitely not have God’s perspective on what is happening. Praying is handing the situation over to God to do what only He can do. Worrying is allowing the situations of life to sit on our shoulders. Worrying never takes into account the power of God working in and through the situation. When we are worrying, we are almost always leaving God out of the equation. Our pastor loves to say, “If you can worry, you can pray. Worry is talking to ourselves about the problem and praying is talking to God about it.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk very well when I am trying to carry the weight of life on my shoulders. Praying reminds me that there is Someone bigger working on my behalf and the behalf of those around me.
This doesn’t mean we ignore our problems or responsibilities, it means we ask God what He would have us do and ask Him for His perspective. For instance, in a parenting situation, He may give us new perspective on how to deal with the issue at hand. If we had just worried, we would probably handle it wrongly.
4)I find myself feeling hopeless. Romans 15:13 NLT I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When our focus is in the right place, we will be full of hope. God is the SOURCE of hope. Hopelessness is never from Him. Sure, it may take a little while to get there, but Hope will come. We can’t look at Him for long without realizing that our problems begin to look small. Look at all of the stories throughout the Bible when Hope came. David killed Goliath. When our hope is in the right place, we will kill our Goliaths. Moses freed a nation. When our hope is in the right place, we will walk free and others around us will begin to experience freedom as well because of the hope in us. Hope looks different. It just does. I’ve seen some incredible people in hard situations with a beautiful hope.
I remember hearing about a woman talk about her experience with cancer. She was sitting in the cancer clinic with her eyes downcast. She felt small, vulnerable, afraid and hopeless. God spoke to her to look up and when she did He spoke. “This is why you’re here. These people need Me.” Perspective. All of a sudden she wasn’t a forgotten woman, alone with her cancer, she was a woman on a mission. Not only that, but God saw her and knew she was there. I’m sure you have your own stories.
When we open our eyes we see them and we remember them. We can see the beauty even in the hard places when we look at what God is doing. Today’s hardship will be tomorrow’s testimony even if it doesn’t turn out how we want it to or hope it will. God wastes nothing in our lives. We do, but He doesn’t. If we keep our eyes on Him, we will see it.
This is not a call to ignore what is really going on or to pretend like things are better than they are, but rather to look to the One Who knows our hearts and our minds and wants to restore all things in our lives. We desperately need His perspective for our lives and for the lives of those around us. He does indeed hold my situations and life in His hands and He holds yours. Let’s look to Him.
Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
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