Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Godly Perspective on Struggles

The Christian life is full of trials and struggles. It’s how we face these struggles that will determine the fruits of our life. Today I want to talk about trying to view life from God’s perspective. This is much easier said than done, and of course truly seeing God’s perspective is only possible if He chooses to reveal it to you! But I firmly believe that looking at problems this way helps even if you can’t see the full picture.

Virtually everybody on earth is naturally myopic, or nearsighted, when it comes to looking at their life. We focus on the short-term rather than looking at the big picture and getting a better perspective on things. I believe people have problems for only two reasons, the natural consequences of poor decisions, and God is trying to teach something.

Consequences for poor decisions fall into two categories, results for your bad choices, and results of the bad choices people around you make. Cause and effect in individual lives is easy. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight and become unhealthy. If you choose to look at everything pessimistically, you will probably be a negative unhappy person, etc… The effects of others’ poor choices are more difficult to understand. Somebody destroying their life through drugs or any other perversion hurts everybody that cares about them, their choices don’t just effect themselves. The actions of criminals frequently hurt innocent victims, etc... This is a natural consequence of the free will that God gave all of us. We aren’t puppets. We have the power to make decisions that can either do harm or good. When people choose to do wrong, others get hurt. I absolutely believe that God has the power to intervene in any situation. And I believe he does intervene sometimes. This is why it is so hard to deal with bad things when they happen for seemingly no reason. “Why did God allow this to happen?” Is probably the most difficult question we will ever face because the answer isn’t always the same and isn’t usually what we want to hear. I’ll share what I believe is a better way to view this a little bit later, but now I want to talk about the second reason for trials.

Sometimes God purposefully puts us in difficult situations in order to teach us and strengthen us. If life were easy, we wouldn’t have to lean on God for strength. We wouldn’t appreciate blessings if we didn’t first understand troubles. I believe this is why so few “Christians” in America are truly following Christ. Whether Americans realize it or not, we have it good. We are blessed with an abundance of food, shelter, and security. Most Americans look at their life and don’t see a daily need for God’s provision. They believe they have plenty to survive on their own. In many other countries, daily survival is bordering on miraculous. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from, but you trust God will provide it. On average, the Christians I’ve met in Africa and the Philippines have a much higher level of joy than Americans because they truly appreciate the “little things” we take for granted such as food, shelter, and family that loves us. They appreciate these things because they know what it is like to not have them. I believe the best way to be able to praise God in the good times involves having our faith strengthened during the bad times. We must lean on God during struggles before we can dance with Him in celebration!

Once again, this is much easier said than done, and everything looks better in hindsight. There has been countless times in my life where I have prayed for specific things and then thanked God looking back that He didn’t give me what I thought I wanted because what He had planned was much better than what I wanted even though I was upset and didn’t see the bigger picture at the time. I love the analogy of mountains as struggles. We humans look at mountains and how huge they are and can’t imagine how much work would be required to get through them. If you have ever been on a plane, you understand how a little change in perspective can change things. When flying over mountains at 30,000 feet, it all looks like flat ground, and this is still looking at things from a human perspective. How much more of a difference could it make if we truly looked at life from God’s eyes?! The problems that seem huge to us are nothing to Him.

My ultimate view on earthly struggles is this: I know that I am just a worthless sinner, and I deserve nothing more than to burn in Hell forever. Anything other than that is better than I deserve. But God loves ME so much that He sent His son to die on the cross in MY place. And I know that I have been forgiven because I have Jesus in my heart and I know that I will spend eternity in heaven. No bad thing that happens on earth should affect the joy of knowing Jesus and His love for us.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I pray that everyone is having a truly blessed week 

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell

I want to leave with one of my favorite verses and the best advise anybody could ever give. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

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