Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Positive Perspective’

 

No doubt it’s happened to you too: a shift of life-circumstances occurs in an instant and suddenly your world is shattered. Maybe it’s a job transfer or termination. Maybe it’s the break-up of a long-term relationship or marriage. Maybe it’s an accident or life-altering medical diagnosis.  Your thoughts wrap around the event and its consequences with such ferocity, you can think of nothing else.

We know focusing on “what ifs” and “if only-s” is counter-productive. And as people of faith we know God has our best interests at heart. But we hurt, and we wonder what God is up to.

The next time cataclysmic circumstances overtake me, I want to be better prepared, starting with a new perspective.  I want to view obstacles as opportunities:

 

“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity?

Our attitude toward it.

Every opportunity has a difficulty,

And every difficulty has an opportunity.”

–J. Sidlow Baxter

(pastor, theologian, author, 1903-1999)

 

The trouble is, attitudes are not easily adjusted. How do we change our perspective? Perhaps such strategies as these will prove helpful:

 

  1. Be intentional about word choices.

We can call our situations opportunities as Reverend Baxter suggests. Challenges are adventures as we live out God’s plan for this circumstance. And we can change the D of Disappointment to an H for His appointment*—an appointment to learn, grow, and mature (James 1:2-4).

 

 

  1. Consider the circumstances from God’s point of view.

According to Charles Spurgeon, what seems a crushing burden to us is a matter of small dust to God. I need to focus on how great he is compared to the smallness of my problem.

 

 

(“Great is our Lord and mighty in power,”

His understanding has no limit.”

–Psalm 147:5)

 

Such scriptures need to be front and center, posted in attention-grabbing places like inside the refrigerator, on the steering wheel, or in the sock drawer.

 

  1. Let purpose impact perspective.

When our daughter was in high school, she joined the track team one spring. Heather never won a single race.  But she didn’t consider herself a loser, because instead of running against the competition, she ran against the clock. Every tenth of a second she shaved off her time, she considered herself a winner.  Her purpose for running was not to become a track star; it was simply to be with friends and get a good work out.  Her purpose impacted her perspective.

 

 

God has purpose in our circumstances—to produce tremendous benefit in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We can choose to embrace his purpose (even though we may not know what it is) and allow it to impact our perspective.

 

  1. Look for the blessings.

 

 

(“When I am in the cellar of affliction

I always look about for the Lord’s choicest wine.”

–Samuel Rutherford–

pastor, theologian, author, 1600-1661)

 

Rutherford wasn’t referring to material blessings, although God certainly bestows those, even in the midst of pain or trouble. The Lord’s “choicest wines” include his peace (Isaiah 26:3) and joy (Psalm 16:11) that defy explanation as difficulties assault.

But, we must look about. Will the blessing arrive through a special scripture or other reading? Perhaps through a song or the comment of a friend? The possibilities are endless because our God is infinitely creative. Our part is to be attentive.

 

  1. Focus on God himself (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

By his power the whole universe functions as a cohesive whole. Out of his infinite wisdom, every creature is provided for. And because of his loving compassion, every person may enjoy eternal life through his Son, Jesus. God is able to do all things! He will not fail to see us through all our troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

 

 

One of the first explorers to sail around the southern tip of Africa experienced whipping winds and driving rain during that portion of the voyage. He named the area Cape of Storms.

When Vasco de Gama traversed the same promontory in 1497, he renamed it Cape of Good Hope. His focus was not on the turbulent waters under and around his ship but the treasures of India ahead.

 

Vasco de Gama

 

In life, we can focus on the storms of difficulty and pain.   Or, we can center our hearts and minds on the life of good hope Jesus provides here and now, as well as look ahead to the glorious eternity of heaven.

The choice of perspective is ours. Will we choose to view our challenges as obstacles or opportunities?

_____________________________

 

What helps you achieve or maintain a positive perspective when adversity strikes? Please join the conversation in the comment section below!

 

* His Imprint, My Expression, Harvest House Publishers, 1993.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.wikimedia.com (2).

 

Read Full Post »

 

finding_contentment_wide_t_nv

 

According to research, guess what percentage of our happiness is based on circumstances.

A. 10%?

B. 25%?

C. 50%?

D. 80%?

 The answer? Just 10%.

Now why would that be? My guess is, our perspective matters more than our circumstances.

 

Contentment-723x1024

 

 (“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want,

but the realization of how much you already have.”)

 

Ah, yes. Gratitude. Definitely an important attitude, contributing to the sweet, even-keel life of contentment. But it doesn’t come naturally to most of us.

Our thoughts, if left untended, can easily fall into a dark hole of:

  • Self-centeredness. “Yeah, the budget’s tight, but I really need a new car. It’s downright embarrassing to drive around in our old clunker.”
  • Self-pity. “It’s not fair that I’m not paid what I’m worth. I work so hard.
  • Self-justification.  “I deserve that new car.”

Note the focus on self. And half the time (or more) we don’t even realize how much of our thought life spins around in that dark hole.

How can we possibly climb out?   Time and attention are required to develop a mind that frequently contemplates thanks-giving and praise instead of complaint-making and dissatisfaction.

Even the apostle Paul said he had to learn how to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:12).  And like any new skill, developing contentment requires a bit of knowledge and a lot of practice.

 

dad1ef5d3113528298849bf74da82f41

 

The best place for knowledge on such a topic is scripture. Several passages can inform our understanding of contentment.

  1. King Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23).

Not that reverencing God protects us from trouble and every day is glorious. Bad things still happen to good people. But those who reverence God and worship him see life from a different perspective. They can be content even when catastrophe strikes, knowing that God will see them through.

 Think about Daniel in the lions’ den, or Peter and Paul in prison.

  1. Paul said he didn’t really care if he was living in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:12).  How is that possible? He answers in the next verse, and it’s a familiar one: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Living in plenty–with God–taught Paul how to keep his priorities straight.   Living in want–with God–taught Paul to detach himself from “things.”

  1. Paul told Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

 When we think of a man with “great gain,” we imagine a person with a large, beautifully decorated home, designer suits, two or three cars (for his own use—family members have their own cars), and the capability to go on expensive vacations.

But what about the young Christian father who thanks God every day for his loving wife and two precious kids? Who enjoys a circle of fun, supportive friends at church that also help him keep his priorities straight? This guy lives in a two-bedroom ranch, drives a ten-year old car, and spends vacations taking day trips from home.

Yet he’s rich, too–maybe even more so. It’s just that his riches fall into a different category. He’s rich in relationships, especially with God. “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth” (I Timothy 6:6, NLT).

 

contentment

 

Now that we’ve absorbed a bit of scriptural understanding, it’s time to practice what we’ve learned. How can we foster contentment in our spirits?

  1. Cultivate a positive, faith-filled perspective by turning “I wish” statements into “I praise” statements.

Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote to the Christians at Philippi. His days as an adventuring missionary were most likely over; the future looked bleak. Once his trial took place before Nero, Paul knew he could be facing execution.

He might well have said, “I wish I could be back on the road again preaching the gospel. It makes no sense why God has let this happen. I wish he’d get me out of here!“

But Paul’s response was far removed from wishful thinking. He actually praised God that his circumstances were advancing the gospel (Philippians 1:12-18).

  1. Feed our confidence in God, not our comparisons to others. Contentment wells up in our spirits when our thoughts are grounded in scripture, praise, worship, and gratitude.
  1. Focus on the present—look for the blessings of right now. “We will become content as we enjoy each day for what it is rather than moan about what we imagine it could have been” – Bruce Goettsche.

 

833b4774bad851af93b88d4b5f8824e3_new_medium

 

An airline pilot was flying over a lake when he turned to his copilot and remarked, “See that little lake? I used to fish there a lot when I was a kid. Every time a plane would fly overhead I’d think, “Boy, I sure wish I was flying that plane. It must be so wonderful to soar through the sky and see for miles and miles. Now do you know what I’m thinking? How I wish I was down on that lake fishing!”

I don’t want to be like that pilot. I want to be like Paul.

 

 

(Art credits:  www.covgrace.org; www,janellenichol.com; http://www.quoteimage.com; http://www.ponderingtheheartofjesus.com;  www.i.mobypicture.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

Our News from Italy

Notes to our Prayer Supporters

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Faith Barista

Because some days you need a double-shot of faith.

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and reflections by Heidi Viars

Jennifer Dukes Lee

Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

Holley Gerth

Live fully * Love Bravely

Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Healthy Spirituality

Nurturing Hearts Closer to God

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Jody Lee Collins

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions