Problems from God’s Perspective

Recently, I flew to Georgia to see some of my girlfriends and their families. During my first flight, I was sandwiched in the middle seat, but the returning flight, I reveled in my window seat view.

The day was clear, and as the plane took off, I watched its shadow grow smaller and smaller on the ground until it disappeared from sight. Once we cleared the cloud line, I couldn’t see a trace of it.

God is greater than our shadows.

Do your problems seem larger than life? When we focus on how big they are, we often can’t see anything beyond them.

In those times, we need to step back and ask God to help us see from His perspective. Like a plane’s shadow, our problems become smaller from God’s viewpoint, because His power and plan are much greater.

In John 16, Jesus tries to prepare His disciples for His coming death and the persecution they will face for sharing the gospel. He warns them that they’ll have troubles in this world, but He offers them a greater hope.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (I John 16:33 ESV).

What an amazing truth! Yes, as God’s children, we’ll experience trials and troubles, but be encouraged: He’s already overcome them.

God strengthens us in the shadows.

The Lord can even use problems to strengthen our trust in Him. In 2 Kings 20, we find an incredible story of God’s power and presence in dark times.

King Hezekiah was ill, so ill, in fact, that the Prophet Isaiah told him he needed to get his house in order, because he was going to die. Talk about some bad news!

The king wept and pleaded with God to spare him. God heard and answered his prayer, sending Isaiah to give Hezekiah the message he would live another 15 years. However, the king doubted, asking for a sign or confirmation that he would indeed live.

We’re in no place to judge the king for his doubts, and perhaps he was so ill that he felt as though he were dying! Regardless, God graciously strengthened Hezekiah’s faith by giving him a supernatural sign, literally turning back time or “the day’s shadow” to prove His promise (2 Kings 20:8-11).

God may not turn back time today, and sometimes, He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we ask. However, He does give grace when we need it and hope for eternity.

God sees us through the shadows.

I don’t know what you’re facing today (and I certainly hope it’s nothing as serious as King Hezekiah’s illness), but the words of Psalm 23 remain true. Regardless of how dark and deep your problems look, if you’re God’s child, He’s always with you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me … (Psalm 23:4a ESV)

In youth group, we sing a song by Chris Tomlin entitled “Our God.” Let the words of the chorus wash over you and help put in perspective whatever you’re facing.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God, You are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, awesome in power,
Our God, Our God.

Yes, He is.

If you’re tempted to become discouraged, remember the plane’s shadow. On the ground, it looks enormous, but from the sky, it’s small.

How has God demonstrated his power and grace in your life? What biblical promises help you keep problems in perspective? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

~ Kristen

 

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6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage, Pt. 1

Tami Myer is my friend and fellow writer, and every time she blogs about godly marriage, I sit up and take notes.

And I’m not married yet.

So I started thinking: Could Tami share a biblical perspective on marriage for singles that we could apply to our walk now? I mentioned my idea to her, and she graciously agreed to guest blog here.

It’s my hope that Tami’s two-part series will bless you as much as it has me.

***

Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?

If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage.[i]

Here are six important things to know about marriage.

#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.

When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.

In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:

For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:5, NLT)

God will be our husband? What does that mean? As we study biblical marriage, we learn that a man is to be the protector and the provider for his wife. The husband is responsible for the well-being of the woman. He lays down his interests in order to love her well. His very life is to be a covering of protection over his bride. He honors, nurtures, and cherishes her.

Amazingly, God is eager to be this kind of “husband” to everyone who enters into a covenant relationship with Him.

I will take you to be My wife forever. I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. (Hosea 2:19, HSCB)

As a type of “wife,” we accept God and welcome Him. We take His name as our name. “I am His” becomes our identity. We become covenant partners with Him, and we allow Him to carry the weight of responsibility. We give up being spiritually single. We end our other spiritual love affairs (pursuing pleasure, prestige, or possessions), and we devote ourselves to Him. Instead of being spiritually independent (“I know what is good for me”), we depend on His guidance and wisdom.

We live to know Him and to make His name great. We trust His care, knowing that His goal is our radiance.[ii] Our thriving is His glory.

We abide in Him, and He abides in us. We delight in Him, marveling that He delights in us.

As a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
(Isaiah 62:5, HCSB)

#2. You can have a great impact on others in the area of marriage.

As you interact with people every day, you can be a powerful influence. You don’t have to be married to know what God teaches about marriage. Understanding the Scriptures will enable you to share helpful truth with others.

It has been said that wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. Whether married or not, we all need wisdom in this area because the marriages around us affect our lives. Marriages shape our society and culture.

#3. You may have heard that sexual purity is a gift to your future spouse, and that is certainly true. But purity is also a valuable gift to yourself.

You are far more than physical instincts and chemicals. You are more than an animal, which lacks moral strength or character. You have inherent honor, for you are a man or a woman created in the image of God Himself. Women have the God-given glory of being women. Men have the God-given glory of being men.

Your sexuality is deeply linked to your spirit. If you are abused sexually, there is a deep wounding in your spirit. If you give your body away sexually, your spirit is dishonored and demeaned. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, NLT)

Perhaps you don’t know how much you are worth. Perhaps you don’t know that you are a person of high value. God says that you are a treasure. You are priceless!

Your body and spirit are worth far more than cheap words and empty promises. You are worth nothing less than someone’s solemn vow before God and witnesses to honor you “til death do you part.” Guard yourself against anyone who says you are worth less than a lifetime commitment.

Sexual purity isn’t just physical. It is also mental. Stay away from porn. It will destroy you. We live in a pornographic society, so it takes strength to fight back, but it is well worth the effort. Porn promises pleasure, but then it sabotages even the ability to enjoy pleasure. It is highly addictive, encourages abusive behavior, creates dissatisfaction, destroys empathy, and causes users to view people as objects.

Pursue sexual purity in your behavior and in your thinking. You will reap great rewards from this, both now and later, whether single or married. Purity will free you to be healthy physically, spiritually, and in your relationships with other people.

Whatever may be in your past, you can embrace purity now because God loves to give fresh starts and clean slates.

To be continued… Be sure to come back next week for the second part of: 6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage.

Notes

[i] One of the best books on marriage was originally written for singles. The Meaning of Marriage is based on a series of sermons which pastor Timothy Keller preached at his church in New York City, where his congregation is predominantly single.

[ii] Ephesians 5:27, NIV