Seeing life from God’s point of view

When you run into tough times in your life, what do your friends have to say about it? We’ve all been there. A bad day at work. A fight at home. A difficult exam at school. On those bad days, you tell your friends what’s going on. And friends rarely have no opinion. If you have a neutral friend who doesn’t really invest emotionally in you or your life, you might want to rethink that friendship.

But while it’s good to have friends who support you and who are on your side, you need to make sure you’ve got people in your life who will tell you the things you may not want to hear.

daisy-toward-skyToday’s verse is Matthew 16:23.

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

The first time I read this verse, I was shocked. I thought, oh my gosh, how could Jesus be so harsh? I mean, Jesus had just declared that he would die a brutal death, and Peter just wanted to protect Him. Peter didn’t want Jesus to have to face the horrible true purpose of His birth–that He had come to save us.

That’s just being a good friend, right? You want to intervene. You want to get between your friend and the painful situation that they’re going to have to face. But that’s when we need to truly consider how Jesus reacted.

No, Jesus wasn’t saying that Peter was possessed or anything like that. But Peter’s exclamation that Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross came from an ungodly perspective. From God’s point of view, Jesus’ purpose was to die on the cross. God had sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for us. If we were going to be saved, if God was going to keep His promise, Jesus had to die.

How does that understanding line up with our own lives?

God has a purpose and a plan for all of us, and it’s a good plan. It’s the best plan. But the problem is, the world is a mess, and you can’t live in it without getting messy, even if you’re following God’s plan for your life. Sometimes you’re just going to have to go through some crap. Maybe it’s sickness. Maybe it’s a failed relationship. Maybe it’s emotional hurt or physical pain or mental stress. It’s never God’s desire for us to suffer, but sometimes suffering is the only way to learn the lessons we need to learn.

Jesus had to be crucified, the worst, most humiliating form of public execution mankind has ever developed. If God’s only Son had to experience that, what business do we have getting upset over our own “light and momentary trials”?

You can avoid difficult situations. You can put off conflict resolution. You can evade consequences. But only for so long. And if you have friends in your life who are urging you to run away, don’t listen to them. They’re not helping you, and their point of view isn’t coming from God. And if their point of view doesn’t come from God, it can only come from one other place.

I’m thankful for my friends who see life from God’s point of view. A real friend cares more about what God says than how you feel. It’s harsh, but it’s true. God knows best. His rules are for my benefit. His plan will eventually lead to the desire of my heart, if I stick to it. And a friend who wants what’s best for me will tell me what I need to hear, no matter how much it might bruise my ego or my pride.

Praising God when your power goes out (and you haven’t had a shower yet)

Do you ever have days when you don’t feel like praising God? Do situations come into your life that make you wonder if He even cares? Somedays I feel like an ant in an ant farm that God made, and He’s far above us watching us scurry around to build our little lives and gather enough food for the winter . . . and just to make things interesting sometimes he turns the ant farm upside down so that all the tunnels I’ve dug fall apart.

But is God really like that? No, He’s not. Because usually if our lives turn upside down it’s because of something that we have done to ourselves–and we need God’s help to get it right side up again.

But when you’re in the middle of a crappy situation, sometimes it’s hard to remember that God actually has good plans for us.

Last night, for example, my power went off at 10:30 p.m. I was just getting into the shower and the whole house went dark. Now it’s one thing when you live in a city and your power goes off; it’s another problem entirely when you live way out in the country and your power goes off. Without lights, it’s pitch black out here. You seriously can’t see your hand in front of your face. Granted, if you step outside you can see the ambient light of the few little towns in the area but that’s about it. Other than the moon, you’ve got nothing. No air conditioning. No fans. And me and my best friend (who’s out visiting this weekend) are out here all by our lonesome, and it’s still 80-some degrees outside and inside too.

The power came back on twice and went back off twice in a ten minute period before my friend and I just decided to go down to the basement to try to sleep. The basement usually stays about 15 degrees cooler than the rest of my house. So we hunkered down to try to sleep.

The power came back on at 1:00 a.m. I figure some crazy knocked out a transformer with a sparkler bomb or something. I don’t know. But we both did end up getting a fairly good night’s sleep in spite of it all . . . Well . . . I did. She’s still sleeping. =)

But I guess the point is, I had two ways of looking at the power outage last night. It was frustrating, to say the least. I hadn’t gotten a shower, and I have work today. And it’s really not good for me to go to work with greasy hair. So I could have very easily gotten all upset and grouchy and stressed. But what good would that have done?

Instead, I decided to be thankful.

I was thankful that I hadn’t already gotten into the shower when the power went out. Otherwise, I would have had to wait until 1:00 a.m. to rinse the soap off.

I was thankful my best friend was out with me because even though I can weather power outages just fine by myself, it’s nice to have someone else there.

I was thankful that the basement was actually quite cool.

And I am thankful that somehow, even though the night was strangely abbreviated, I still managed to get a really good amount of rest.

And then . . . I read today’s verse.

Isaiah 12:4

4 In that wonderful day you will sing:
      “Thank the Lord! Praise his name!
   Tell the nations what he has done.
      Let them know how mighty he is!

So . . . this is me thanking God. This is me praising Him for all the awesome things He’s done for me, whether they seemed awesome at the time or not. This is me telling the whole wide universe that God is great and His plans are always good and no matter how difficult the situation might seem — no matter if you have greasy hair and no power and no running water and no air conditioning and you’re hot and stinky and sweaty and you have to go to work the next morning — that God is mighty enough to make everything work out in a way that not only brings glory to Him but joy to you.

Pretty cool, huh?