Of Perspective and Expectations

By Gwen Sellers

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Jesus read this prophecy about Himself: "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'" (Luke 4:18-21). In John 16:33 He told His disciples, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." The poor exist, but Jesus brings good news. There are captives, but in Jesus there is freedom. There are blind, but in Jesus there is sight. There is oppression, but Jesus brings liberty. There will be suffering, but in Jesus there is peace. Final redemption is not yet here. We need not shrink away from suffering or fear acknowledging the gravity of its reality. And this precisely because Jesus has overcome. It's our perspective on the matter. Suffering is not good, but the context of our suffering is that Jesus has come...and that He is returning. That changes my view on the hard things of life.

I tend to want to avoid negative emotions when I think they will be too much for me to bear. It's when they threaten my faith or my sense that everything will eventually be okay that I fall into the trap of thinking it is easier to ignore them. But, in fact, my hope is not in negative emotions going away, but in acknowledging Jesus' presence in the midst. That is the truest I can be. There is hardship. There is suffering. Jesus said it would be so. He also said He would be with me in it. And He has promised to one day fully redeem it all. It is when I fully accept both the depth of suffering and the exceeding grace and strength of my Savior that I can genuinely live out verses like Philippians 4:8. It is in acknowledging the true pain of the bad that Romans 8:28 takes on actual meaning. If I shirk away from suffering, I miss out on the great joy when suffering is relieved. If I deny or minimize the reality of pain, I necessarily limit the amount of joy I experience when that pain subsides. But if I only focus on the suffering, I fail to acknowledge the things my Savior has already done. If I only see the bad in the world, I fail to experience the peace of Jesus. If I only look at what is ugly, I fail to see the proof that God is redeeming things. I can focus on the things that are good because it is a reminder to me that God is at work, that He is faithful, and that all of this has a purpose. It isn't a rose-colored glasses view of life. It's a true view of life. God is at work. He is on His throne. Redemption is coming. I fix my eyes on Him that I might live this life to the full and persevere until the end (Hebrews 12:1-3).

I pray that I would have God's perspective on life in all ways. I want to learn to not only focus on the beauty of God in my own life, with astounded gratitude for all that He has done, but learn to help others also see the beauty. Never in a way that minimizes their experience. Never in denial. But as Jesus did. As the Psalmists did. Fully acknowledging the pain, the suffering, the heartache, the sin, the depravity, the yuck of this world. Grieving what was lost when sin entered the world and engaging with the specific heartaches we now experience because of it. And then fully acknowledging who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing. When I cannot understand why God would allow what He does, may I throw myself on His mercy, approach Him honestly, and then wait for Him to speak.

Image Credit: Mari Wirta; "Sunbreak through the Storm"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Jesus-Christ  | Personal-Life

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Published on 5-18-15