What words would you use to describe 2020? I’m sure we can all come up with some colorful descriptors for this year. Unusual, unforeseen, unprecedented, unimaginable, uncomfortable. Certainly unforgettable.
There are lots of articles and posts filling our news feeds these days with truly awful stories and statistics. I have come to realize that my healthiest option is to stay off social media and news sites as much as possible right now. It’s difficult if not impossible to determine truth and keep a positive outlook. Now, granted, we can’t just live in a shell, hiding from the reality of the pain and problems all around us. But I do believe we should be purposeful about how we view those things in order to keep a proper perspective.
Perspective is a word I have thought about a lot in 2020. This bizarre mashup of a global pandemic, social unrest, and national political turmoil has required that I constantly check my perspective of things. It’s easy to get sucked in to whatever rhetoric is being shouted loudest at the moment. The difficulty is in keeping focused on the things that truly matter and maintaining the right perspective.
As a follower of Christ, my perspective is hopefully primarily shaped by my faith and by what I read in the Bible, and secondarily by my life experiences. Spiritually speaking, none of us here on earth have perfect vision, even those of us who have walked with Christ for decades. We all see the world through different lenses. Some of our lenses are smudged with flawed theology, some are warped with bitterness, some are thick with immaturity. Some are cracked and some are soot-covered. Some of our lenses give us inadequate depth perception so we focus too much on things in the moment or too much in the future or the past.
With such flaws in my own vision, I often wonder how I can ever hope to have a good perspective in times like this. I know the simple answer is by staying in prayer, keeping focused on Christ, and meditating on His word. What I’ve come to learn – and mostly accept – in this year of 2020, though, is that I will not always have a perfect perspective every moment of every day. There will be times when I lose perspective and the current virtual learning struggle with my child will seem completely overwhelming. There may be times when a news story or post by a close friend makes me question my firm convictions. There may be times when financial stresses leave me worried about the future. And there may be times when sickness or injury cause me to question God’s goodness.
These moments of skewed perspective, though, do not define me or my faith. On the contrary, they grow my faith. Every one of these moments that I live through and emerge from clarifies my earthly vision a little more. And not a single one of these moments comes to me without Christ allowing it. He is using them to refine me, to focus my vision, to sharpen my perspective. As Malachi writes:
He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.Malachi 3:3 NASB
So today, in the midst of juggling work at home and virtual learning, while I pray for a job for my husband and a vaccine for this virus, I will be thankful to God for the hard times He allows. I will pray that He continues to teach me to filter my thoughts through the truth of His word. And I will rejoice that through it all He is purifying my vision little by little, day by day, difficult moment by difficult moment.
Have you also struggled with perspective lately? How is Christ sharpening your focus today? How can you actively participate in this process? What will you gain from a truer perspective?
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!Isaiah 26:3 NLT