In this world we see so many things. We see the trees gently sway as the warm breeze passes by. We can see the beautiful array of flowers blooming in the spring and the vast variety of colors the leaves display when the fall season is upon us. We can see our children run and play or watch the cute elderly couple hold hands and share an embrace. The things we see with our eyes are as varied as the people in this world. However, the eyes we see with here on this earth are tainted with a hunger for more, a thirst for joy yet unknown, and a desire to see things never seen before.
Sometimes in this life we get too caught up in what we actually see to even consider that there is more to life than meets the eye. We get stuck in our circumstances that appear to be too much to handle. It is so easy to lose sight of the glory of God that surrounds us when our eyes are focused on the fears, anxieties, and frustrations of this world and its overwhelming circumstances. So what do we hold on to? What can we rely on when our eyes see only one thing that is before us? We can hold onto God’s promises! He promises to bring peace that will fill our hearts with joy overflowing (Philippians 4:7, John 14:27). He promises to give us strength to overcome even the most insurmountable obstacles (2 Thessalonians 3:3, Psalm 118:14, 28:8, 29:11). He promises to provide for our every need, even when we can’t imagine how (Matthew 6:25-33, Psalm 55:22). His promises are true and lasting (Deuteronomy 7:9, Genesis 28:15, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Psalm 145:13, 2 Peter 1:2-4, Joshua 23:14). However, we must remember to seek God, to ask Him into our lives, to come into our hearts, to be our provider and deliverer (Matthew 6:33, 7:7-8).
As humans we are used to being let down by those who love us, it is just our nature (Psalm 41:9, Proverbs 27:6). We are not perfect, but God is (2 Samuel 22:31, Matthew 5:48). And in His perfection, He will never fail us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Psalm 9:10). When we ask God for the things we need (strength, endurance, provision, peace, joy, sustenance, intimacy, mercy, compassion, health, etc.) He will indeed answer us. (Psalm 17;6, 118:5, 86:7, 50:15, 1 Peter 5:7). God will not abandon you, but instead will set your feet on solid ground, steady your way, and give you all you need to continue on the narrow and God centered path He has destined for you in this world (Isaiah 43:2). Still, in our flesh, we tend to doubt God will be there to supply all our needs, even though His word and His promises stand strong and true. Do you find yourself looking for detours or shortcuts that will make your life easier? Do the forks in the road confuse you when you come upon them? They certainly do befuddle me! But when I take my anxieties to God, when I earnestly seek Him and ask Him to lead my steps, to provide all I need, He is faithful to do just that.
I have been asking for years, 4 1/2 to be exact, to have a job that will provide for my son and I. I went on interview after interview. In the past year I interviewed for over 12 jobs only to be declined for a myriad of reasons–over experienced, not experienced enough, not the right degree and education, too high of a degree, over qualified, etc, etc. You name it, I have heard it through the last 4 years. I got frustrated, angry, lost hope at times, felt inadequate, and yet through all of it God held me close to Him, giving me reassurance through friends, scriptures, Bible studies, and sermons. He always gave me inspiration when I needed it and strength to press on even though every fiber of my being just wanted to give up and quit! I even had my times when praying became very difficult for me as I felt God didn’t listen anyway, so I figured why bother. It was during those struggles that my friends and family lifted me up in prayer and presented my needs and requests to the Lord. Once again, the power of prayer carried me through, even if it wasn’t me praying, even though I could not see what was being done for me. The Lord was repeatedly true to His promises for my life. He brought peace when my flesh grew weak and endurance when I felt I could go no more.
After the prayers and requests of my friends, my family and myself, the hardships and the downtrodden moments in my journey of life became a bit more bearable. I found myself strong enough to stand and proceed through the storms, seeing that God was faithful to me and I was able to view the forks in the road of life more clearly. Did I doubt because I could not see through my circumstances? Of course! Did I still stumble and fall when the odds seemed insurmountable? Absolutely! But through it all, though God was not providing a consistent job, He was opening up other doors for me to further my education, begin a singles ministry in my church, and allowing me time to release burdens of the past. He answered my prayers, just not on my timing or in the way that I expected Him to. What is even more amazing as I sit and look at my past journey, the whole time I struggled, God still provided for my every need, even blessing me with a bigger home!
It has been through this trial of unemployment that prayers were answered in another way and my eyes were opened to more than what was going on around me. I have learned a great deal about myself and have been able to recognize my prideful and self sufficient ways. In the past I always did things on my own, in my own strength and my own power, directing my own life myself (though in reality it was just an illusion as God was making all the moves, I just didn’t realize it then!). When we ask God for things or for blessings, we need to remember that our pride and self sufficiency gets in the way of us receiving all God has to offer for our lives. In my journey over the past 4 years I learned what humility really was and how it plays out in the life of a Christian. I had to surrender my pride and ask for help along the way, realizing I could not walk this life without others. I had to surrender my thinking that I could do it all, that I could hold it all together on my own. In reality, God opened my eyes to see that I need others, I have to rely on them sometimes, even at the risk of being let down. I need to be encouraged, my cup refilled, and my thoughts realigned through the advice, words of comfort, and love of family and friends.
I also learned that I have to surrender the things I want sometimes and be thankful for having all that I need. Through my journey, I came to understand that what I want is not necessarily what I need, and that my prayers need to align with what God knows I need rather than what I “think” I need. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows us from before we are born to the time we meet with Him again in the heavenly realms. He knows every choice we will make and every circumstance we will encounter before we know. He knows the outcome of every situation when we stand dazed and confused at what we lies before us. To think I know better than God what I need is to tell God He does not know me, when in fact He is the one who created me, numbered my days, and has the master plan for my life. How humbling to be told by the Lord God Almighty to move out of the way because I am making things in my life worse!! Yes, this past 4 years have indeed taught me to surrender my pride and my illusion of self sufficiency.
With all that said, do you still see with your eyes? Do you see life through your circumstances or do you see life as God sees it? Have you taken the time to see your life and your circumstances through the lenses of eternity or are you stuck in the never ending cycle of letting your circumstances determine your life? God does not want us to suffer, but He does allow suffering into our lives to grow us into mature, responsible, compassionate, and merciful Christians who are strong, faithful, and filled with hope. He allows us to encounter trials in this life that appear insurmountable because then we have to rely on Him and come to terms with our own inadequacies. He brings us through the fire to make us into the beautiful vessel that sheds his light and glory to others. It is not through our happy, go-lucky, everything-is-going-my-way times that shows others God’s love for us. No, it is through the fire and through the storms that people really see who God is and what He can do in the lives of those who call upon His name, those who seek Him with all their heart and all their soul, those who are called according to His purpose!
If you find yourself stuck seeing the world and the circumstances right in front of you, then you will indeed miss out on the glorious splendor that awaits you. Take the time to pray and seek God so that you can see your life as God does–a life that is meant to touch, build, renew, and strengthen others lives around you! I will never forget an expression I heard at church one Sunday: “Don’t tell God how big your circumstances are, tell your circumstances how big God is!” So when you feel discouraged, like your world is falling apart, as though everything is caving in around you, understand that you need to not see with your eyes on earth, but instead, look at your life through heaven’s eyes.
May the glory of God surround you in your most difficult times and may the peace that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. All my love!