Discovering the Good in the Bad

Sharon JaynesWhen You Don't Like Your Story 56 Comments

I sat in the dimly lit room with soft music wafting through the air, and I began to relax. No this was not the prelude to a romantic evening with my husband. It was my yearly eye exam!

If you’ve ever had an eye exam, you’re familiar with the refraction test the doctor uses to determine if you need glasses and if so, what prescription is right for you. You place your face up to a phoropter (I had to look that up. Who knew?), and then the doctor flips down first one lens, then another. Then you say which of the two helps you see the letters on the wall more clearly. Lens one or lens two? Lens three or four? Which one is better?

As I looked through those various lenses, I wondered if I was looking at my life through the correct lens. Could it be that I have been looking at my story through the wrong lens, and if I would simply flip down a different one, I would see a better story?

The apostle Paul was a man whose physical eyesight waned with the passing years, but his spiritual eyesight remained exceptionally clear. During his time of preaching the gospel, he had been flogged, whipped, and stoned many times. He had been shipwrecked, snake bit, outcast, and ridiculed. Several times, he was in lockdown in one place or another.

Part of the time he was under house arrest in Rome, part of the time he was in a dirty dungeon chained to a guard—all for preaching the gospel. And yet, it was during one of those stints in prison that Paul wrote the most joyful book in the New Testament: Philippians.

“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” (Philippians 1:12–14)

Lens one or lens two? Paul didn’t see himself as stuck in prison because of Jesus; he saw himself as stationed in prison for Jesus. He didn’t see himself as chained to a Roman guard; he saw the Roman guard as chained to him. The guards had to listen to Paul talk about Jesus day in and day out. Paul had time to write letters to all the churches, something he might not have been able to do had he continued to travel about. Perhaps that why he could write, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” from a prison cell (Philippians 4:4 NLT)

Paul also wrote, “I am put here for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:16, emphasis added). Who put him there?

From the outside looking in, it appeared the Roman rulers put him there. But from the inside looking out, Paul knew God had positioned him there.

He didn’t see himself as stuck at all. He considered himself stationed. And because he was looking through the right lens, he could have joy even in a difficult situation.

Even though Paul was seemingly stuck in a cycle of one bad thing happening after another, he still had joy. I’m sure he wasn’t happy all the time, but he was still joyful.

There’s a big difference. Joy can be a happy feeling, but it’s also more than that. It’s a point of view.

I wish I could tell you that I have this perspective all the time. I don’t. It’s a struggle. I pout. I get huffy. I get downright discouraged when my plans fall apart, or people don’t respond the way I’d hoped.

But after I settle down, I try to remember to flip the lens and look at my circumstances through the sovereignty of God rather than the selfishness of Sharon. And then I have a better story. Not because the storyline changes, but because I see it differently.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for grumbling and complaining about my circumstances. Help me to flip the lens and look at my life through the lens of Your sovereignty. I know that my circumstances will work to mold and make me to be more like Jesus. Help me have joy in the journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Can you think of one or more situations where you might need to flip the lens and start looking at it from a different perspective? In a few words, comment and share one.


When You Don't Like Your Story

What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? I know that they can! If you would like to learn more about how to look at the difficult parts of your story from a different perspective, then this book is for you. It’s not going to make what was bad good, but it might help you to see how to use the bad for good. Let’s learn together. When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories is just a click away. It also includes a Bible Study in the back.






© 2023 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

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Comments 56

    1. Thank you so much for being so transparent and honest, I so needed to read this at this time in my life. I have joy amidst my circumstances but because I am looking at it through the wrong lense sometimes like you it makes me sulk…Today’s devotional has given me a new perspective and inner peace..

      1. My husband died about sixteen months ago and I’ve had hard times. I’m trying to stay focused on God’s will for my life and keep a positive outlook on everything. Thank you Sharon for being real 🙏🏽🙌🏽

  1. When I get in a disagreement with my husband of 43 years, I need to remember to “flip the lens” and cherish and remember all the things he has done, the things he is doing, and the things he will do. God is working through Rob and will continue to do so. He is our “third twine”.

    I was blessed by your devotion today. Thank you!

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      1. We have been dealing with a difficult neighbor who seems determined to attack us. I’ve been praying for her and repeatedly practice forgiving, but looking at the situation through a different lens has helped me gain a new perspective on the situation. A new understanding that this may be an opportunity.

        1. You’re right, Fawn. Maybe this neighbor is dealing with a troubled relationship and she’s taking it out on you. A plate of cookies and a warm listening ear might be all she needs.

    2. As a widow I can tell you to treasure the moments!! My husband and I gave each other a lot of grace. Look into the heart and the intention, he may just be a ‘man’!

  2. I have always said that the “bad times” are a reminder of the good things. As hard as losing a loved one is, it serves as a lesson for those left behind either in the way they lived or the way they passed. Knowing that either that small child or that saved teenager or adult is walking in the land of Christ comforts me when I lose someone but I try to think of the impact that person has had on my life and how I can grow based on theirs.

    I also have a friend that just recently lost his garage, truck, motorcycle, tractor, commercial riding mower and his entire tool shed to a fire. Even with that loss he still has his home and family, and that’s all that really matters. He will regain those possessions eventually and may even be better for it.

    1. Thank you for this word today. A reminder to be reflective – flip the lens and look at it from a different perspective. I try to remember – someone, somewhere had patience with me, forgave me, gave me grace……I can pay it forward and do the same.

  3. I would like to change the lens on how I handle work situations. Instead of feeding into the negative energy, I will continue to allow God to show that positivity will always out weigh the negative. Joy and happiness over anger and bitterness. Thank you Jesus

  4. Thank you…. I am currently going through chemo treatments and my whole life is changing but praise God he is with me through it all. Paul’s God is the same God I serve. And I am learning so much in this next chapter of my journey. Thank you for your devotion to encourage and reassure the hope we have. Blessings to your ministry..

  5. I have been on an 11 year journey with my son who suffers from a serious mental illness. It has been the most challenging life change that I have had to navigate. It has brought me closer to the Lord. I pray for His grace to continue each day. Amen.

  6. I like the saying”looking at life through his sovereignty, not my selfishness.” Amen to that. I’m so spoiled at times. I’m not usually willing to go through suffering. But when I have no choice, and he brings me through, He gets the glory.

  7. This devotion is great in helping us to remember our lens doesn’t have to be negative in difficult times. We can experience joy in all circumstances. THANK YOU, Lord!

  8. When I recently considered divorcing my husband and all the reasons why life would be better, I then considered all the reasons life would be better if I stayed and it gave me a new perspective.

  9. Good word. Seeing from a different lens. Yes Lord let me see from your perspective and shift my story to what u intended it to be

  10. I’m “flipping the lens”! I’m headed to see a specialist for my headaches 2 states away and in this moment God lead me to read your message! Thank you!

  11. I’m currently going through a divorce and it really sucks letting go of the future we had planned together….early retirement, a cute little cabin up north, and to travel. Now I will have to work another 10 years and I currently don’t even know where I’m going to live for those upcoming years. I’m trying to remain joyful, even in this there are glimmers of hope.

  12. This really touched me today as I am in the middle of a divorce after 30 years of marriage. He’s been cheating on me. It’s been tough. I need to look through another lens and see where this will lead me to better serve the Lord. I’ve always thought about helping someway in my church, but he always held me back.

  13. I’m stuck in a negative mindset due to a complicated medical issue. I have no joy in my life. I feel nothing but depression, anxiety and pain and worrying symptoms. I need to find a specialist who can treat my rare issue. It’s overwhelming and hard. The feeling of hopelessness consumes me. God knows my situation but I I still wonder why this is happening to me and why I have to suffer so much. Please help me, Lord.

  14. I’m going through a difficult situation at the moment. So grateful for this devotional. It is timely and confirms what the Lord has placed on my heart. Shift my eyes to Him and not what I see in front of me. Thank you, Sharon.

  15. I want to share a bit. This story spoke volumes to me because in September’22 I was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. Though 2 brain surgeries, lots of chemo and radiation, not to mention my whole left side is weak after the surgeries, God has carried me through.. today I am flipping the lens of how I view my new life.. God is positively our ever present help in the time of need!

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  16. I currently feel stuck. I am having car troubles and financial issues and this devotion came right on time. I need to flip the lens.

  17. I’m so weary of all the challenges we have been dealing with, dementia, grief, broken relationships and loss. This was a good reminder that God is still on the throne, He is still in charge and He is never weary. I can still be joyful through life’s challenges. Thanks for the reminder!

  18. I’m so weary of all the challenges we have been dealing with, dementia, grief, broken relationships and loss. This was a good reminder that God is still on the throne, He is still in charge and He is never weary. I can still be joyful through life’s challenges. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. I’ve been learning to stop myself and pray for patience many times throughout these past days. It’s working! I, too get huffy, lol and immediately start praying for the right words or simply be quiet. I thank God for you and your postings.

  20. Thank you for this honest and heartfelt message. I needed to read it. I am in my late 60’s and was recently put on redeployment at work. I have been struggling with the news. God has always provided for me and will continue to do so. I will continue believing and praying that God will provide a way for me to take care of myself. May God continue to bless you, your family and all of your devoted readers.

  21. Thank you for this beautiful message today. My Lord and Savior has brought me through so many difficult times. I can never praise his goodness enough and know I am not worthy! However, I am so grateful!! I needed to flip the lens today. My prayers to everyone for peace, healing, comfort and strength.

  22. You are always so inspirational and i thank you for sharing. Today’s example is pretty much where i am. I needto refocus my lenses.My 81 yo healthy husband has been diagnosed with dementia and my 46 yo healthy son that lives with us has severe anxiety and can’t leave the house without me. I find myself having to hold my tongue alot as I get frustrated with both. I know I’m where God wants me. But I prayer for understanding and patience. Thank you again.

    1. Barbara,
      I will keep you in my prayers! With dementia it does take a lot of patience, and with your son, that also takes a lot of patience. Some people would say you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. But remember that God is my rock and He is yours too. You are not stuck! God will provide you with the strength and the patience each day. I pray you may be able to get counseling for your son (even a tele-health version) and that you can find an Adult Day Care for Memory impaired individuals where your husband can be in a safe environment and you can get some down time for yourself. You need to have an outlet for yourself and some quiet time where you can just converse with the Lord.

  23. Every time I perceive my expectations aren’t met. I’ve been working on looking at it that what I do, is not to expect reciprocation but that I do it for the Lord. That has helped me tremendously! I am more joyful, but I stumble along the way. 🙂

  24. Thank you Sharon for this great illustration! How many times have I gone through life with blinders on, yet just needed to flip the lens for a who!e new perspective! Well done my sister in Christ!
    God Bless you all and I am praying for you!

    Debbie L.

  25. My husband and I finally retired last August and moved to Ocala, Florida where he wanted to live because he loved the heat. Unfortunately, he developed an infection in his foot, which was on the mend, but the strong antibiotics affected his kidneys and he died suddenly March 20th. I would look at his picture during the incredibly hot days of summer and say “A fine friend you turned out to be.” I was complaining to my friends and family. And I grumbled to God. This went on day in and day out during the heat indexes of 116+. Then I flipped the lens. I remembered “G.P.S.” God’s Positioning System – you are where you are meant to be. (Robert Schuller from his book Walk In My Shoes) And I started texting my friends “this is Private Barbara stationed here in Ocala at this outpost…” and “I am just a lowly private in this army – who am I to argue with a 5 star General?” There are days that I still have difficulty because we were married 46-almost 47 years but I have a supportive church family where I am a lector and perform missions of mercy for neighbors and friends. I am blessed and I know God is in control!

  26. Sharon, I so love your devotions and this one was just what I needed. God is working on some things with me that I don’t like and joy is what I’ve been missing. Thanks for helping me adjust my lens.

  27. I hadn’t seen my step dad for many years. I found out he was in a nursing home with dementia. He had just been admitted. I felt SO compelled to go. But didnt know how it would go. I decided to listen to what God was telling me loud and clear. I called off work, made the 3 hour drive and got to spend time with him. Before I left I asked the nurses if he needed anything. He had only a few articles of clothing. My mother is abusive, as to why I hadn’t seen my step dad for years., but she didn’t send him with anything. I didn’t have much money but knew it was the right thing to do. I went to a store and bought him several articles of clothing. I knew if God sent me there he would provide for the upcoming bill that that money was to cover. I told the nurses he might say these aren’t his clothes, but tell him they are now. Thank you Sharon for your wisdom

  28. Thank you Sharon for this message!
    I recently got fired from my radio broadcasting job and I’ve been a bit down. It was one of my dreams. I did my best and even though it was short lived, the sting of the situation lasted longer than expected. The unhealthy voice of me being incompetent whispers softly. But I know that this moment was for me to learn something. I trust God will reveal His reasoning and I will open up my heart and mind to his plan and follow through. In Jesus name. 🌸

  29. Thank you & all glory to God, Sharon! What a great reminder to keep eyes on Jesus rather than circumstances. Your honesty helps to keep the right perspective & have joy in the journey!!

  30. I am struggling with coping with my grief during this first year since my husband’s unexpected death. My two adult childrens’ birthdays plus my own come between now and the first anniversary of his death four days before Christmas – this time is proving difficult for us all.

    I have read your devotionals for quite a few years but this year they have proved very helpful. Thank you for staying the course when the changes came. You do make a difference!

  31. Juselda B
    November 17, 2023, At 6:11 pm

    Thank you Sharon for reminding me that there is another lens better than the one I’m looking true
    The other lens is Jesus he has all the answers

  32. Hello Sharon, and Thank you so much for this inspiring message,

    God is always with us, we need to remember God is our #1 source of eye view, not dwell on our hostage of feelings. God has the final say Get in the word, shift life perspective!! We are so Blessed!! Glory to God!!

  33. I needed this……….our church is going thru some tough happenings……….there seems to be total chaos with lack of leadership, some totally inappropriate behaviors, confessions, lies being told, people judging and leaving…………..I have decided to stay as I know Jesus is working on all of us………..he wants a healthy church. We seem so far away from being healthy. I pray that we can focus on Jesus and start seeing thru the lens that he gives us to look thru and a clear path to follow.

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