Tag Archives: perspective

Why God?

A friend of mine told me a story about how when he was a young man, his boss came to him and told him the company had been bought out. He said the new company was going to lay off most of the old employees, but not to worry because he would protect him. When the layoffs came, everything happened just as the boss said. Then a few days later, the boss came back and apologized. He had to let him go. It turns out his boss let go of the new owner’s nephew and was forced to hire him back.My friend was upset. He didn’t have a degree, and his wife was pregnant with their first child.

In moments like these, we normally cry out to God, “What are you doing?” Have you ever had one of those times? Everything points to God allowing you to be crushed, broken and ruined. We wonder where God is and why we have to go through it. The ten sons of Jacob who went to Egypt for food had one of those moments. They had gone to purchase food, but didn’t recognize their own brother they had sold into slavery. They bowed to him just as Joseph had dreamed years earlier.

Joseph didn’t let on that he was their brother. He held one in prison to make sure they came back. Then he had their money returned to them in their bags of grain. When they were a day away, one noticed it. Genesis 42:28 says, “‘Look!’ he exclaimed to his brothers. ‘My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!’ Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, ‘What has God done to us?’” (NLT) They couldn’t see that God was actually blessing them.

That brings me back to my friend. Because he got fired, he found a job with a major company. He then got a degree and moved up in the company. He was able to provide for his family more than he would have at his old job. What looked like an end was really a beginning. What looked like a curse was really a blessing. If you’re going through something you don’t understand, don’t be quick to judge God. Give Him time to work things out for your good. He has a pretty good record of blessing His people.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

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Choose Forgiveness 

  
When you’ve been hurt by someone, you can either forgive them or you can hold a grudge. Holding a grudge makes you look at the chain reaction of what they did to you, and then blame them for how you ended up where you are. It creates “if then” statements in your mind: “If they hadn’t done that to me, then I wouldn’t have been in this miserable place in life.” Anything bad that happens in your life gets blamed on them. Your mind becomes consumed with how bad things are, and you create a perpetual cycle of a downward spiral.

When you forgive someone for hurting you, you set your mind free. You no longer give that person power over you and the direction of your life. You are no longer consumed by the bitterness that creeps into every area of your life. You no longer dread waking up each day, and your perspective changes. You can look back at that moment and see how God used it to get you where you to be. You quit despising the life you have, and begin to see it as a blessing.

If anyone ever had a reason to hold a grudge, it was Joseph. His brothers beat him, threw him in a cistern, and sold him as a slave. That event took him away from all he had known. His freedom and all he had were taken from him in an instant. Hew as Farley accused and spent years in prison because of their betrayal. Bitterness could have linked it all together and made him hate his brothers. Instead, he chose forgiveness and God blessed him for it.

Forgiveness is about remembering we aren’t perfect ourselves. We make mistakes and hurt others too. God wants us to give people room to make mistakes and then to forgive them. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT). If you’ve held onto a grudge towards someone because they’ve hurt you, let it go snd forgive them. Quit giving them control of your life and your mind. Bitterness is unbecoming.

When you let go of it, instead of always thinking about how bad your life has gotten, you will be able to see how God has used that situation for your good. You will see that the path you were on wasn’t going to get you where God wanted you. It’s easier to move on when you see that God can use what’s been done to you to help someone else. You can now shine a light into someone else’s darkness and show them the way out if you choose forgiveness. 

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Changing Routes

When I lived in the Middle East, the U.S. Embassy would often tell us to change our routines and the way we went to work. We were told to find a different path, go in at different times and to be unpredictable in our routes. It was easy to take my route to the church each day. I would ride my bike over the flyover, go up a few blocks, turn left for one block and then go right. I waved each morning to the men at the bakery. I said, “Good morning” in Arabic to the furniture makers. I nodded at the guards at the intersections. I was comfortable in that route.

I think we love routine because we feel there’s safety in it. We can do it without thinking and it’s easy. We see the same things each day and they become ordinary to us. Changing routes and routines throws everything off. There are new sites, new people, and new patterns that cause us to have to be alert and to pay attention. We as Christians should be doing this in our lives often. Not only will it give us a heightened awareness of what’s around us, it can increase our circle of influence.

I pray each day for God to open my eyes to see what He wants me to see, but I keep the same routine and wonder why I’m not seeing anything. Changing routines and routes in our lives changes our perspective. It forces us out of the mundane and into the extraordinary. It allows God to reveal things to us that we couldn’t see from our old perspective. It helps us to see other people who need our help that weren’t in our path before. It keeps our lives fresh.

I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. How can we expect God to move in our lives, open our eyes and change our perspective if we just keep doing the same old things over and over? We have to get out of what is familiar to us. We have to quit asking Him to put people in our path and start asking Him to put us in their path! If we want to grow, we have to be willing to change.

I’m not a person who likes change, but the company I work for believes in it and I’ve learned to adapt. Being comfortable doesn’t help you to be the best. It helps you fall into a false sense of security. It makes you think that what you’re doing is enough. The rich, young ruler who went to Christ was comfortable. He had kept all the commandments since he was a kid. He did what was right. Jesus asked Him to make a radical change to his routine and route. He couldn’t do it and walked away sad. He wanted different results while doing the same thing.

What routines and routes do you need to change? What is God asking you to do differently than you’ve always done? Are you asking Him to put people in your path or to put you in their path? Changing isn’t easy and doesn’t produce immediate results always. It isn’t comfortable so we typically run from it. Don’t be afraid to ask God what paths, routines and routes in your life you need to change. Once you ask, have the faith to make those changes so you don’t end up like the rich, young ruler.

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Freedom Through Perspective

A co-worker of mine has a drawing on his desk of a bird eating a frog. You can’t see the frog’s head because it’s in the bird’s mouth. With one of his legs that is still outside of the mouth of the bird, the frog grabs the bird by the throat to prevent it from swallowing him. The caption reads, “Never give up!” It’s a funny drawing, but there’s a great message in it too. Most people in that situation would have given up. They can’t see the light of day. They’re being swallowed by their problems. All hope seems lost.

Paul the Apostle was in a similar situation. He was in jail often. His life was always being threatened. He was beat up, stoned, ship wrecked and had to face judges. When things seemed at their worst, he still found a way to praise God. One of my favorite stories of him was when he was in the dungeon of the prison. He was shackled with no hope of getting out. At midnight, he was singing praises to God.

If you’ve never been in a prison before, I can tell you there’s not much reason to be happy. There’s no joy there. Our prisons today have power, sewer, water, air conditioning, TV, food and more. Back then, prison was prison In every sense if the word. There was no hope for anyone that was there. Paul’s hope didn’t rely on his external circumstances though.

He understood that the things that happen to us are only temporary. As he sang, an earthquake shook the prison and the shackles that held him physically released him. His physical body became as free as his spirit. Not only did his shackles come off, but so did those of everyone in the prison. Praise is powerful enough to not only free you, but to free those around you who do not have the strength to praise.

We studied in church this week from the book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs. The chapter we studied was called, “My response is my responsibility”. Even though the book deals with marriage, the principle that was shared applies to all areas of your life. Other people do not control your response. You do. You choose how you respond to situations created by others. They can’t make you do anything. How you react is your responsibility.

Paul’s response to troubles, persecutions, prisons and trials was never one if despair. It was always of hope. In II Corinthians 4:16-18 he says, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times.” He understood, as we should, that the thing we are going through right now is temporary even though it doesn’t feel like it.

When you compare the situation you’re in with eternity, it’s small potatoes. When you compare it to your life and what is temporary, it’s huge. God doesn’t want you to compare your struggles to the things of this world. You’ll lose your perspective and ultimately your joy. Keep your eyes on eternity and what is to come. Your perspective will change and your praise will rise to free you from those chains.

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