The Battle for Perspective
I have many precious friends and family members celebrating Jesus’ birthday with Him in Heaven. My deep love and longing to be reunited with them can easily reduce me to tears. A battle is waged over my perspective, how I will interpret my experience, the script I will recite to myself daily, and where I will take the pain of our separation. Do I see Jesus gently shepherding us through this valley of the shadow of death or do I see us abandoned and alone? Do I see my loved ones in Heaven celebrating Jesus’ birthday with Him or as cold, lifeless, dead in the grave? Are my eyes fixed on God’s deep, sacrificial love displayed for us in Jesus or is He an uncaring ogre in my eyes?
It takes prayer, spiritual eyes, and time in God’s Word for a broken heart to see and embrace the truths of the gospel: God is good. He loves us. God sent His Son to redeem us. God allows brokenness in our sinful world for His good purposes. He is near the brokenhearted.
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness, but is longsuffering toward you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed but everyone to come to repentance.”2 Peter 3:9
Posting Gospel Reminders on My Walls Helps
My Place of Refuge Shapes My Life
My perspective greatly influences how I interpret my experience and where I run with the pain in my heart. The place I take refuge will shape the remainder of my life.
A gospel perspective is formed by rehearsing gospel truths.
The only thing that keeps the dark gravitational pull of this broken world from dragging me into its abyss is asking God to open my eyes to see gospel truths in His Word as I meditate on it. I must choose to believe His truths as He reveals them to me. I must cling to their light and make them the script spoken over my life by rehearsing them daily. Or swallowed by darkness, back turned against an imagined ogre god, my script and my reality would become that I am alone, unloved, and miserable.
Taking up My Cross
After Thanksgiving this year, my thoughts traveled to the events that led to the murder of our youngest son after Thanksgiving 11 years ago. My longing for things to be different led to a tremendous struggle and anguish. In those hours, I desperately wanted off the altar of endurance and simultaneously knew that my only hope for rest was to surrender everything, including myself, as a living sacrifice to God.
I took myself back to the days of Jesus’ anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane and begged God for the strength to make the altar of “yet not my will, but yours be done” my own. I don’t know how or exactly when, but before the day was done, God answered my prayer and enabled me to renew my surrender and trust of all things to His sovereign wisdom, mercy and grace.
Fighting to Stand Firm
I am very thankful for that victory and I am actively fighting to stand firm in it by carefully guarding and nurturing my heart. I continually take my heart to the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to help me see and experience His great love for me. I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and faithfully preach the gospel to myself.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death will be no more nor mourning nor crying nor pain;
they will be no more, because the former things have passed away.
And the One seated on the throne said,Revelation 21:4-5
“Behold, I make all things new.”
Then He said, “Write this down,
for these words are faithful and true.”
Beautiful Memories: Tastes of the Beauty to Come
When a memory catches my heart and renews my longing to be reunited with my loved ones, I take a deep breath and remind myself that our suffering is only momentary and the glory it is producing far outweighs it all (2 Corinthians 4:17). God will generously restore all the good gifts of time with our loved ones to us multiplied by INFINITY. Gifts received here are only a taste, a shadow, of the wonderful gifts God has prepared for those who love Him.
Our present lives are “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). “Life and breath and everything else,” “our appointed times” and “boundaries,” are all gifts given to us that we might “seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:25-28, Matthew 6:27).
1 Corinthians 15 tells us that the perishable bodies of “those who belong to Him” are planted like a “seed,” “changed” “in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet,” “raised in glory” and “power,” “spiritual,” “raised imperishable” and “clothed” “with immortality.”
Presently death stings… but then, OH GLORIOUS THEN, “the saying that is written will come to pass: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” – 1 Corinthians 15:54b
“Thanks be to God,” THANKS BE TO GOD!!!!! “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” – 1 Corinthians 15:57
We Must Persevere In His Victory
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”1 Corinthians 15:58
“So let us know—let us press on to know the LORD. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the earth.”Hosea 6:3
“You need to persevere, so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.’”Hebrews 10:37
Encourage Yourself and One Another
The darkness is growing stronger and the gospel is needed more than ever. I cannot express how necessary and impactful surrounding myself with encouraging believers has been. I speak the truth in love and work to encourage others because I need to hear the truth spoken in love and the encouragement of others.
“Let us not neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:25
Abiding in His Love for us,