Imagine the Apostle Paul writing to churches and telling them how horrible things are and how life is unbearable.
Dear beloved, I wanted to let you know that the chains are heavy and weigh me down, I can barely stand. Joy left me like death, never to return. I fear Christ’s commission of spreading the ‘Good News’ is at standstill. Each day I worry whether I would be able to see another day.
Thankfully Paul saw everything that happened to him from a different perspective. And instead, he wrote this;
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:12-14
Perspective is Essential
Experiences alone are not what determines our heartaches or trauma, but how we respond to them. Of course, some people are more predisposed toward negative self-narration while others see the good in everything. Our personality traits, backgrounds, and cultures play important roles in how we interpret circumstances and situations.
A person sees the world how his/her mind interprets it. The mental pictures a person gathers throughout their life can have a tremendous effect. It is similar to what psychologists call ‘Schemas’ – Cognitive generalization that organizes and guides the processing of information (Behavioral Research Methods).
1. What does it matter?
We all asked ourselves ‘What does it matter?’ millions of times, often when things are not going our way. When you concentrate on what you can control rather than things you can’t life will be different. Paul saw his imprisonment as a chance to further spread the gospel in an unreached environment. Rather than lamenting on his predicament, he saw a blessing in disguise.
Knowing what matters to you is vital because it will drive your perception of the world around you.
2. What shall I choose?
In life, you’re faced with decisions all day long, especially those dealing with some form of emotional or mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, etc, or even daily choices.
Paul made a choice that “For me to live is Christ and to die is to gain.” Whatever happened to him was alright because he would glorify God at all costs. No wonder his perspective about his pain and suffering differs from what most of us would have or expected him to have.
Acceptance and not avoidance is the KEY: For to me is for Christ and to die is gain.
3. What does it mean?
What is the purpose of everything I am going through? A question we’ve asked many times and will continue to ask as long as we are alive. It is normal for human beings to look for meaning in everything.
Anything you find amidst great pain will mean a lot to you. No hardship is ever wasted except when we don’t give it meaning. For example, pain and suffering is a theme that many Christians don’t want to be familiar with yet, the Bible stated that “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” 2 Timothy 2:12
Our world changes rapidly, even while on lockdown, and it is hard to joy amidst the hardships that come along with it. In the story of Joseph; God was with Joseph despite everything that he endured, yet if Joseph would have self-narrated his story perhaps we would see that he did not necessarily feel God’s presence through it all.
Things to Consider
- Pain or suffering does not equate to God’s absence or inability to save you
- God’s blessing can be displayed in different forms (Your interpretation matters)
- Not every uncomfortable situation is caused by the devil
- God’s Love for you is beyond your temporary pain and hardships
- Your life is not limited to the scope of your circumstance (there’s more to your life than meets the eye)
- Align your perspective with God’s truth and let your core beliefs reflect God’s grace and mercy
- You give meaning to whatever is happening to you
No matter what you’re going through, strive to have a perspective that helps interpret things in God’s light that helps you endure. You live in a fallen world, therefore pain and suffering will always exist. You have to make a choice to endure, interpret, and give meaning. Cheer up and be encouraged that this world is not your final destination, and the best is yet to come. Hold on to your faith, and trust in the God who can do more abundantly than you could ever ask or imagine.
Thank you for reading. May God grant us the right perspective during this season, and the wisdom to discern what we can control and what we can’t control. Stay Blessed Always!