4.09.2013

Where are we looking?

I heard this story some time ago, and have had in sitting in the post queue ever since.  I open it, read it, find encouragement (and sometimes conviction), and then close it again.  I am not sure why, because when something grabs me I usually share it right away.  The Lord does this to me often, so I am learning not to question His timing - but to trust Him in it.

Our pastor shared this story when preaching about trusting God, and having a proper perspective on what He does in our lives.  Even when the days are dark, and the trials are long.  Our circumstances may not change, but our attitudes certainly can!

Matthew Henry, a minister in the 1700's, was robbed.  That same evening he penned these words in his diary:

Let me be thankful,

1)  I was never robbed before.
2)  Because although they took my wallet, they didn’t take my life.
3)  Because although they took my all – it wasn’t much.
4)  Because it was I who was robbed and not somebody else.

If that is not an example of proper perspective, I am not sure what is!

The one that really grips me is the last one ... it was I who was robbed and not someone else.  How often do we make that statement in our lives?

* I am thankful we are the ones struggling with a financial burden and not the young family in our church.
* I am thankful my children were diagnosed with learning issues, and not the children of the single mother.
* I am thankful that I am hindered by fatigue and illness, because I am still alive!
* I am grateful for these personal attacks and trials, because I can bear them better than the new Christian who is not yet fully anchored in Christ.

Matthew Henry was robbed.  Mugged, if you will.  This is a scary and serious thing!  Instead of whining about it, or telling everyone he knew, looking for attention and coddling, he privately sat down before the Lord and gave thanks.

HE GAVE THANKS!!!

I love this story because it is so completely counter cultural.  When something negative happens - finances, health, jobs, children, church struggles, relational issues - the usual responses are stress, fear, anger, complaining, blame, despondency, discontentment, or bitterness.  When was the last time you heard someone say, "Praise God!  I lost my job!  That means someone else kept theirs and will be able to provide for their family without worry."?

Is it normal to respond with fear and worry when something bad happens?  Yes.  It is a human response.  But as God's children, we are called to respond differently - in spirit and in truth.  We are called to keep our eyes fixed on things above.  To trust Him for our daily bread.  To lay our burdens at His feet, and let Him lead us.  We are not supposed to respond as the world does.  We stand in awe of people like Jim Elliot and Corrie ten Boom and wonder if we could ever respond the way they did when presented with horrible circumstances.  Jim Elliot was willing to die at the end of a spear for the sake of the Gospel - and he never wavered - even though he knew his wife and daughter would be left without him.  Corrie looked into the eyes of the Nazi guard who had beaten her sister, who later died in the camps, and said, "I forgive you."

Why?

Because they had a heavenly perspective.  A Christ-centered perspective.  They understood that the Lord's ways were not theirs, and His thoughts were not their own.  They did not lean on their own understanding.  They knew the answer to the question Is anything too difficult for the Lord? No!  Nothing is too difficult for Him!

They trusted their God.
They saw Him work.
Their faith grew.
And they never doubted Him again.

Isn't that what we should all be striving after?  A proper perspective on who our God is, and what He can do?  Knowing that in any and every situation, no matter how deplorable it may be, He IS God?  He is our rock.  Our stronghold.  And it is through our trials that He perfects us.

Perspective.

Where are our eyes fixed?  On our circumstances, or on our God?  If they are in the right place, we will never be paralyzed by worry or fear, because we know Who holds us close, Who carries us, and Who is doing everything for our growth and maturity - in Him.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

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