Your Perspective Makes the Difference

“Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry to be so long in writing. Unfortunately, all my stationery was destroyed the night our dorm was set on fire by the demonstrators. I’m out of the hospital now, and the doctors say my eyesight should return — sooner or later. The wonderful boy, Bill, who rescued me from the fire, kindly offered to share his little apartment with me until the dorm is rebuilt. He comes from a good family, so you won’t be surprised when I tell you we’re going to be married. In fact, since you’ve always wanted a grandchild, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll be grandparents next month.”

“P.S. Please disregard the above practice for my class in English Composition. There was no fire, I haven’t been in the hospital, I’m not pregnant and I don’t even have a steady boyfriend. But I did get a D in French and an F in Chemistry, and I just wanted to be sure you received this news in the proper perspective.”

Your perspective makes all the difference in the world, and it influences how you respond to problems at work, problems at home, problems with your health. Paul says that as Christians we can rejoice even in tough times because we have hope and because we know that God is working in our lives. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3)

Believe it or not, suffering can be productive! It does accomplish something. Problems have a purpose. Your trials and difficulties have value. Just as in childbirth so it is in other areas of life, it is easier to handle suffering when you know there is a purpose in it, and that it is not just in vain.

Now, what exactly does our suffering produce? First, Paul says our suffering produces perseverance (Romans 5:3). The Greek word for perseverance literally means “the ability to handle pressure.” That’s what perseverance is — the ability to handle pressure, to hang in there, to never give up but to keep on keeping on. When we make it through a difficult time without giving up, our character and confidence are strengthened, enabling us to handle even more pressure when it comes in the future.

Next, Paul says perseverance produces character (Romans 5:4). This word occurs only a few times in the Bible, and it means “proven reliable.” God uses the problems in your life to produce perseverance and character. And internal character, not circumstances, produces joy. Then, Paul says, character produces hope (Romans 5:4). Remember, in the Bible, the word hope doesn’t mean “I wish” or “I want.” It means confidence in Christ’s power. Instead of destroying our hope, problems are designed to increase our hope!

Problems don’t automatically produce perseverance and character and hope. Some people go through tough times, and all that happens to them is they become bitter, angry and uptight.  Perseverance, character and hope are produced in us only when we choose the right attitude.

And what is the right attitude? Joy is the right attitude. James echoes Paul’s teaching on this subject: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3). Notice again, joy comes “because you know.” It’s always a matter of perspective. James continues, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4).

Our Lives will Experience Heat & Drought

“But blessed is the person who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Jeremiah gives us a wealth of wisdom and encouragement in the two verses above. Blessed, joyful, content, and satisfied is the person who places their trust in God. Think about it for a moment. All worry and anxiety is rooted in distrust of God. We can deny it, but it is still every bit as true.

Scripture tells us to cast all of our fear, worry, and anxiety upon the Lord, but doing that requires trust. Fear, worry, and anxiety rob us of the joy, contentment, satisfaction, and overall blessing God intends to give each of us. God has always proven faithful, yet it is a normal flaw in our flesh to distrust God.

On the other hand, choosing to trust God releases joy, contentment, satisfaction, and the overall blessings of God. Proverbs says that if we trust the Lord fully, He will direct our paths. Jeremiah says that if we consistently choose trust we will be like the tree planted by the ever-flowing stream, regardless of the heat and drought of life, our roots will always be able to reach the life-giving stream.

All of our lives will experience “heat and drought”. Heat represents those times of intense pressure. Drought represents those times of dryness and emptiness. Life is ever changing. We have great days, and we have really hard days. We experience times of stress and pressure that increase our blood pressure and lower our tolerance. We experience extended times of emptiness, where we have expended so much, and nothing seems to be replenishing us.

The great news of the gospel is that regardless of the ups and downs and overall pressure of life, God is always faithful and trustworthy. It we choose to maintain our “rooted-ness’ in Him, we will find an ever flowing stream that will allow us to stay fresh and bear fruit. The heat and the droughts of life will come, but the river of God never ceases to flow to the point of our need.  But we it does require trust.

Our trust is based in our confidence in our unfailing, always faithful God, whose ways we do not always understand, but who nevertheless, is the definition of trustworthy. Complete and absolute trust in God provides the blessings of God you crave. It will give you peace in the raging storms, steadfastness in the howling winds, and calm when the world around you seems to quake. You can trust Him!

In the words of S.M. Lockridge, “He supplies strength for the weak and He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He sees. He guards and He guides, He heals the sick, He cleansed the Leper, He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers the captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. He’s the key to knowledge, He’s the well spring of wisdom, He’s the doorway of deliverance, He’s the pathway of peace, He’s the roadway of righteousness, He’s the highway of holiness, He’s the gateway to glory! You can trust Him! He’s the master of the mighty, He’s the captain of the conquers, He’s the head of heroes, He’s the leader of legislators, He’s the overseer of the over-comers, He’s the governor of the governors, He’s the prince of princes, He’s the king of kings, He’s the Lord of lords! You can trust Him!”