When you are in the midst of suffering or the problems the world is facing or even frustration with the mundane details of life, some days can seem dark the minute you wake up. You focus on whatever you are struggling with or all the same things you have to do and it can make the day seem pointless and without hope.
Mike Wells used to say “Whatever gets your focus gets you.” I find this such an important statement when we are in circumstances we can’t change or have to wait to change. We have to figure out what to do in the middle of the foggy road when we can’t see the way out.
If my focus is on all the things swirling around me at the moment, I will spiral downward quickly and live in the darkness as long as I’m stuck there. If my focus is on Jesus and all the good He is providing in my life right now, I have a chance to live differently.
I often talk about people who made it through concentration camps—probably the worst possible scenario I can think of. There were myriads of people who died inside their bodies, watching and experiencing all the terror and agony. There were others who made it out with life and I often wonder how. Yes, God spared their physical lives for sure, but I also think that they chose to not allow the circumstances to determine their focus.
When I look around me and all is terrible, I can choose instead to focus on Jesus and the beautiful gifts He has given me as a good father. I can also choose to focus on the terrible and my heart will be filled with that hopelessness.
The other day I came home from a hard day and wanted to sit and cry by myself. But God brought my kids and husband around me and I wasn’t allowed to go wallow in my self-pity. This was such a gift! I began to thank God for my kids, my husband, the beauty of the sunset, His incredible love for me in my brokenness, and on and on. When I stop to think that direction, the list is endless. And not because I am a millionaire and have a ton of possessions but because we are called to thank Him for what He HAS given us and who He is to us.
I find it interesting how many times in the Bible it says “praise Him” or “give thanks” or something similar. There is something to this that changes our perspective radically. It doesn’t change our circumstances, but the circumstances don’t get to define our focus. If my eyes are on Jesus, I start to see the amazing love He has for me in all He has provided as my Shepherd. No, I don’t have lots of money, I’m not seen as “successful” in the world’s eyes, my kids fight, my dinner sometimes burns (or just tastes terrible!) and occasionally my husband and I don’t see eye to eye. But none of those things are the definition of my life in Christ.
When I choose to look to Jesus and start to thank Him for His wonderful gifts, my spirit lifts and I am no longer stuck pondering the ground and wondering if it will swallow me up. And the miraculous thing is that my circumstances may not have shifted one bit! But in focusing on Jesus and entering into the choice of gratitude, I can walk through the situation with a radical shift in perspective. And when my focus is on Jesus, I don’t get stuck obsessing about how bad I have it (or think I have it)–I can see others and really love them where they are.