Our perceptions—much more than our circumstances—are the building blocks with which we construct our lives. No matter what the circumstances and stress, our view of life determines our level of joy and contentment.
Having a biblical perspective is seeing life as God sees it. It is the ability to get past the immediate circumstances to see God’s ultimate plan.
Perspective is what Joshua and Caleb had; it’s what the other ten spies lacked (Numbers 13:31). Joshua and Caleb entered Canaan and saw the land, the fruit, the potential for prosperity, and a place for their families to live and worship God. The other ten spies went to the same land and saw giants—great men of war, who made conquering the land seem impossible.
Of course Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants. But while the ten saw the giants as bigger than God, the two saw God as bigger than the giants. Because they envisioned God on His throne, Joshua and Caleb could look at the same set of circumstances and see a completely different picture than the others saw—a picture both realistic and optimistic.
Our perspective may not be tested in the same way as theirs, but count on it, it will be tested.
Years ago, Nanci and I went on a two-week vacation to California. We left the kids with friends and took off on what was going to be our greatest vacation ever. We had everything planned and just knew it would all go perfectly.
Everything did go perfectly—for the first forty miles. Then our radiator blew up, costing half a day and half our money to get a new one. Twenty-four hours later the rest of our money and our credit cards were stolen—on Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend. We couldn’t wire back for money until the banks opened three days later, when we had reservations in another part of the state. As the saying goes, “But that’s not all.”
Not only did we have more car problems, but Nanci developed a severe sun rash and couldn’t expose her skin to direct sunlight until we returned home to Oregon (where direct sunlight is rarely a problem). Long sleeves, high necklines, and floppy hats were the only things that allowed her to escape from the motel.
Now, while it could have been the worst vacation we’ve ever had, it turned out to be one of the best. Why? Perspective.
We cried, we prayed, we laughed, we grew. We counted our blessings and realized how much we had and how little we’d lost. Once we let go of our ideal picture-perfect vacation and determined to enjoy whatever God had for us, He gave back to us a wonderful time and more. The circumstances didn’t improve because our attitudes improved. But, by God’s grace, our attitudes completely overcame the circumstances. With hearts full of gratitude, we enjoyed our time immensely.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Prov. 19:21)
The fulfilled life largely consists of unclenching our fists, releasing our plans and giving ourselves over to His purpose, whether visible or invisible.
“A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Prov. 18:14).
A right attitude carries us through bad circumstances and poor health. But no matter how strong the body, how positive the circumstances, a crushed spirit will never experience joy. Perspective is what makes the spirit soar like an eagle even when the body is ravaged by accident, disease, or age.
Stress can’t stand in the face of a right perspective.
What stressful circumstances are you facing right now? How might you change your perspective about these circumstances?
Excerpted from Randy and Nanci Alcorn’s book Help for Women Under Stress. Leave a comment below by Friday, May 3 for a chance to win a copy!