“There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 The Message)
Richard Foster said, “Celebration is the fruit of perspective.” A bitter man can see nothing of the hand of the Lord in the circumstances of life. All he sees are the hardships, the losses, the set-backs, the disappointments, and the heartbreaks. Like Solomon, such a man discovers the ultimate consequence of a life lived apart from God — “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!”(Eccl.1:2), or as the NIV translates it, “Everything is utterly meaningless!”
On the other hand, those who live by faith, whose lives are set on a course led by the Holy Spirit and guided within the boundaries set by the Holy Scriptures, can look backward with joy at the way the Lord has brought them.
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not; Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be! All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” (Thomas Chilsom, 1923)
They can also look forward with anticipation of where He will take them. It is this perspective that gives birth to celebration. “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
As a young boy in the Orphanage I remember one hymn we would sing often, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!” And then there was that great old song that still carries weight in today’s contemporary church services. “When peace like a river attendeth my way; or sorrow like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot; Thou hast taught me to say, ‘Praise the Lord! It is well with my soul!’” Talk about a heavenly perspective!
Ethel Waters often traveled with Billy Graham and was beloved by millions around the world. Her signature song, which is also the title of her autobiography, is “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” This is one of the finest examples of the wonderful perspective that comes from being led by the Spirit.
“Why should I be discouraged? Why should I feel alone? Why should my heart grow heavy, longing for heaven and home? For Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. So, I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!”
When we are led by the Holy Spirit He brings us to a place of perspective. This is what Paul is emphasizing in much of his writings. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” he said. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV)
A man or woman of faith will look for God in everything they experience – and they will find Him. This is the perspective that changes everything.
One stellar example is Stephen, as he stood before the enraged inquisitors who were already determined to put him to death. His face was like that of an angel as he gave his irrefutable defense (Acts 6:15). At one point the crowd went wild with rage and rushed upon him. The Bible says, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, hardly noticed–he only had eyes for God’ (Acts 7:55 The Message).
His perspective lifted him far above the darkness of that moment. And the same will happen in today’s dark world for we who live by faith. And no matter how difficult the way may become, or how hard the trials may be – it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. That’s our perspective.
Light after darkness; gain after loss.
Strength after weakness; crown after cross.
Sweet after bitter; hope after fears.
Home after wandering; praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing; sun after rain.
Sight after mystery; peace after pain.
Joy after sorrow; calm after blast.
Rest after weariness; sweet rest at last.
Near after distant; gleam after gloom.
Love after loneliness; life after tomb.
After long agony, rapture of bliss –
Right was the pathway leading to this!
Tomorrow we will discover the Sixth Sign that is posted along the route where the Holy Spirit leads us.