It was the sound that drew my attention first. I had come to expect the sound of an arrow cleanly breaking through the air before landing in the target. This time however, it held a pause. A pause followed by a sharp stab of pain. I looked down trying to comprehend what had happened, and that’s when I saw it. Blood. I took my right hand and quickly covered my left to conceal what I could only imagine was horrific. My husband’s words confirmed my fear. “I’m calling the ER.”
It wasn’t how I had hoped our day would go. We had an entire day, free from obligations and work that stretched before us. My husband and I had played some corn hole in the backyard, and we followed that with some target practice with the crossbow. I was then hoping that we could throw the kids in the car and go for a hike to end out our day. Those were my plans. But, instead, I found myself sitting alone in the ER, deeply disappointed by the day’s turn of events, and crying uncontrollably.
It can be easy to become consumed by the emotions that rise up when we find ourselves facing hard things or disappointing circumstances, isn’t it? Circumstances out of our control can leave us feeling out of control. When we feel out of control, we are often far too quick to react and not consider the effects our words or actions may have on others or ourselves.
My children are a perfect example of this. They have been walking through a season that many would define as typical sibling rivalry. But, if I’m being honest with you, it’s my kids reacting to situations in ways that aren’t healthy. Every day, we are guaranteed to hear either, “You’re such an idiot,” “I hate you,” or “You’re a dum dum” from the precious mouths of one of my children. These angry words tumble forth most often when someone does not behave as someone else thinks they should. Angry words are thrown, feelings are hurt, tears ensue, and more angry words are thrown. It’s a vicious circle.
As adults, don’t we do the very same thing at times? Maybe we don’t go around calling people dum dums, but think about how we respond when someone behaves in a manner of which we disapprove or says something with which we don’t agree.
We’re quick with harsh words, whether we speak them aloud, think them in our mind, or post them to our social media account.
We’re quick with harsh actions. Our body language can speak volumes even in the simple turning of a cold shoulder or the giving of a look of disapproval.
Sometimes, our responses aren’t outward, but inward. We walk through a particularly hard season, internalizing all that is happening around us. We blame ourselves for our circumstances, wallow in our self-pity, and then we linger in that place of defeat.
We take circumstances that are out of our control as permission to act out of control. We cry, throw fits of rage, say hurtful things . . . Have you ever been there?
Let me share some truth with you. Facing circumstances that are out of our control does not mean that we have to act out of control. We can rise above the hard things that life throws our way, and not allow our emotions to dictate our responses. To do this however, we need to shift our perspective.
Perspective is the ability to view things and circumstances from a vantage point that is different from our own. The perspective we are after is the one driven by truth and filled with compassion and understanding. The perspective we seek, is God’s.
In the book of Isaiah, we are reminded that God’s perspective is different from ours. It says,
“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’”
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
God has the ability to see things clearly, completely, and in their full truth. Author, Debbie Simler-Goff, says this about God’s ability to see. She says,
“We see a mountain, but God sees a bump.
We see a hurricane, but God sees a puddle of water.
We see the night, but God sees the dawn.
We see an empty bank account, but God sees a pending miracle.
We see brokenness, but God sees restoration.
We see uncertainty, but God sees assurance.”
God’s perspective shows us the truth found in our circumstances every single time.
How can we shift our perspective to align more with God’s? Start by asking God to help you see. Ask Him to help you see not only with your eyes, but with your heart as well.
In the book of 2 Kings, we find the story of the prophet Elisha and his servant. God had been working through Elisha to thwart the enemies of Israel for some time. One night, the enemy surrounds Elisha and his servant while they sleep. Starting at verse 15, we read,
“When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. ‘Oh, sir, what will we do now?’ the young man cried to Elisha. 16 ‘Don’t be afraid!’ Elisha told him. ‘For there are more on our side than on theirs!’”
2 Kings 6:15-16
Think about this for a moment. We have Elisha and his servant. Just the two of them. And they are surrounded by the army of the enemy. From a human perspective, how would you predict things are going to turn out? If I had been the servant, I would have been sobbing into my tunic right about now. But, if we keep reading, we read this.
“17 Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”
2 Kings 6:17
God opened the eyes of the servant to see their circumstances in their complete truth. The truth was that yes, the enemy had surrounded them but, God’s army had surrounded the enemy!
If you are in the midst of a hard season right now, or you are faced with circumstances that make no sense or are completely unfair, I encourage you to ask God to help you see. Ask Him to open your eyes and your heart to the truth found in your circumstances and so that you may see things from His perspective.
Maybe it’s not a hard season of life, but a difficult relationship that is causing you to struggle. Difficult people can be hard to love, can’t they? Ask God to help you see that person through His eyes.
It’s been a number of years now since the death of Osama Bin Laden, but I remember when it came across the news. People were in the streets celebrating his death. I however, couldn’t join in the celebration. You know what I kept hearing in my head? I kept hearing God say,
“I loved him too, and I never stopped pursuing him.”
From our human perspective, we saw a man that had done indescribable evil and hurt so many people. That’s true. But, God saw a man who was so lost and needed Jesus desperately. That’s also true. Ever since then, when I hear of someone who has done something incredibly evil or one of my kids comes home and shares the horrible thing a student did in class that day, my first response is not one of anger. My first response is to wonder what has happened in the life of that person for them to act in such a way and then pray.
In this life, we will encounter people who, from a human perspective, do not deserve compassion. Ask God to help you see that person as He does. Ask God to open your eyes and your heart so that you can lead with understanding and offer compassion.
God’s perspective is driven by truth, understanding, and compassion. Whatever you are facing today, I pray that you would take a moment to pause and ask God to help you see.
Simler-Goff, Debbie. “Gaining God’s Perspective”. Inspire A Fire. https://inspireafire.com/gaining-gods-perspective/. Accessed 13 Sept. 2020.