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, while 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 was 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 NIV)
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 is 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. Click & Tweet!
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.
What is one situation that you maybe need to look at through a different lens? Leave a comment and let’s share.
If you’re like me, you long to see God, hear God, know God intimately…not just on holy days but in the everydays. The good news is, He wants that FOR you more than you want it for yourself! Discover how to experience God’s presence in the middle of your busy day in the pages of A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More!
Need prayer? Click here.
Great Truth! Taking this to heart and pondering on Paul’s spiritual insight and how I can make it mine!
Your eyesight is not based on circumstances. It is based on how you see things.
I had the best 6 months in my entire life… And if you really look at it from outside, it is the worse.
I was drowning in debts. I was scrambling penny after penny. Worked in a fast food with no friends or family. But I went to church. I found God.
I vowed for every penny I spend would go toward my debts.
6 months I scrambled, my debts were paid off. At that end, God spoken loud and clear, “Your job ends here. Time to leave. I have other plans for you.”
Don’t get me wrong, I hesitate and aruged with Him. “I still have long way to go and I’m just finally on my feet! You’re telling me to quit my job!?”
I walked out. Cuz golly sheesh, He told me to. Ha. Within a week later I found another job and my paycheck was still in a good flow without missing a beat.
I was sure close with God and I could hear Him so clearly as I could you and anyone else. It was amazing……
Thank u Sharon – I have not been able to read my Mails properly for nearly 10 Months & LOVE this Encouragement of …maybe God has permitted My Husband ,& Myself to.be infected with COVID & in this Perspective …we need..the Wisdom of Papa God for this next Stage in our Lives &. & Wonder if that why we are now on our 1st True Lockdown as been isolated for 9 months 💛🏡
I NEED GOD’*$ PERCPECTIVE
GOD BLESS U.
Sara – Anna Davis 🌈🙏🏻🕊️😍😍
Thank you for this reminder!
I needed it today.
Caring for 2 sick grandchildren & was feeling “ stuck “. I will now see it as being “ stationed here by God “
Thank you for this devotion, Sharon!! Nothing is going to steal my joy in Jesus!
I live with and struggle with the toll Multiple Sclerosis takes on me every minute of every day. My lens mostly sees that I can’t walk, (without a walker) or use of a wheelchair and all the things I cannot due to having this disease. It’s not like that all the time, and if you ask anyone about me they’d tell you I am the most positive, happiest person they know, b/c I don’t let them see my pain or struggles. I flip the lens for them to see me that way and most of the time I am happy and try to see through the lens that God is here for and with me as I struggle and pray through every day!
Thank you for sharing!
My almost 26 year old son struggling with mental illness. He’s a college graduate and is supposed to be in medical school. Yet, he’s back home living with me and his dad. The hopes and dreams we have my son seems lost but we serve a God who can do anything but fail. The task gets daunting at times because we just never thought we would be here with such a smart and gifted child. But whatever God wants to get from us on this journey, I pray for strength to learn from it as I wait for complete healing and full restoration for our son.
I’ll be praying for your son as well as for you and your husband 🙏
I’ll be praying for your son, and for you and your husband. ❤
praying for your family. 🙏🙏🙏
My frustration with my husband. He is a godly man who doesn’t always respond the way I want him to respond. We have been married for 36 years and have a good life. It hurts me, I pout and clam up. When he doesn’t ask what’s wrong I am even more frustrated. I feel like I’m 5 sometimes! How do I convey my feelings w/out always being angry?
Hi Becky, pray and ask the Lord to give you a tender heart and to remove the anger. Your husband can’t respond to you if you can’t convey how you feel. For some example you might say, hey have honey I am struggling with some issues, can you help me? Always try to come from a place of humility.😊. I hope this helps.
Hi Becky, It has been my experience in marriage to never “expect” from your spouse. They are so much different than women, especially emotionally. When I find myself where you are right now, and I do, I usually write, or type, a letter to my husband.
In the letter, I tell him I am coming to him as my best friend, and I talk about how much my husband means to me, and how much I truly love him. Then I ask for his advice… “today I was feeling very frustrated and wanted to talk about it and he seemed so uninvolved, disconnected from me. I could really use your advice on the best way to approach this with him so that we can both find resolution and move forward feeling good about the solution. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.’
Then I wait for a response from him. Usually, when the house is quiet, he will come sit beside me and say let’s talk. By doing it this way, he does not feel like he is being attacked or put down by me, neither of us approach the issue already angry, and there is no yelling or saying things that I later regret saying.
He is my husband, but also my best friend. So, that is how I approach it. By saying hon, I need to talk to my best friend for a moment… and then sending something similar to the letter above, the fights are non-existent. Praying for you and your quest to find peace for both of you.
Wow. Reading this sent a flood of thoughts through my brain. I was a normal, healthy 38 year old one day and woke up completely paralyzed on my left side the next day. What happened? Apparently I had had a stroke while I was sleeping. My first thought was I’m not old. Then finding out it doesn’t matter how old you are to have this happen to you. My husband was the why person. I just knew I had to get through it. Therapy was not fun. They should call it what it is struggle. It’s been almost 18 years and I’m still struggling at some things. I’ve always had hope moving would become easier and some day it will be gone completely. I won’t be on this side of heaven when that happens but that’s okay. I’ve tried to figure out the purpose but haven’t come up with any real answer except admitting that the good Lord up above did have a hand in the healing that did happen. Seems like every Sunday I would be able to do something I wasn’t able to do before. I do know the church we were attending at the time was praying for my healing every Sunday. Was it coincidence? I don’t think so. Looking back now have I shared that message with everyone? No I haven’t only because I’m very much an introvert. Reading something like this makes me rethink my actions for the past 18 years. It should have forced me to share my message but I was too stubborn to do so. I know I should so now is my chance to start doing just that. We have just recently moved to a different state where no one knows me so I need to rely on the Lord for the courage to start sharing His mighty works and words. Onward to my new mission in life.
Please pray for my husband & I. We’ve been married for almost 40 years and it’s always been a struggle to love him and feel loved by him.
I am praying for you…
I have been married for 38 yrs, tomorrow, and in the last few yrs we have had some struggles such as these, but know, daily, continuous prays for our marriage & for me to look through a different lens, grace & softening of both our hearts I now see God working within each of us. Our marriage seems to be working into more of a balance as this is a new season for us. It wasn’t until I began asking God to let me see where I needed work in our relationship that he showed me ways/things in which I could improve on and/or do. Just always remember…. God is FOR Marriage and will work with you both as long as you ask him.
I struggle with why my baby sister chooses to keep my mother and I at arms length since the death (suicide) of my nephew, her only child, Elijah, at the age of 19. I pray that I can look at this thru a different lens and understand why she finds comfort and strength away from us. Could it be we’re too close to the situation? The struggle is real.
I need a different lense to look through for our adopted son…he and I are together the most and it seems as he grows older the more he resents me and wants to argue about any and all things I correct him on.
I am starting to feel resentment and regret towards him because of this, we are an older couple and have smothered him in love and acceptance. He has all he needs and then a little more in all areas of his life…when he came to us at 4 yrs. old he held a lot of resentment towards his Mother for giving him and his 3 siblings up. I feel now he’s transferring that resentment onto me when he is corrected for anything.
My thoughts are always “Lord, you gave him to us-why is he not Thankful or Grateful?”
I feel like I’m at the point of needing counseling concerning this-I’m feeing resentful because my husband and I could be experiencing a very easy life in our older age but chose to help our son and give him a good life-and we now deal with strife daily?
Hello Laura, I have recently finished an online program about trauma. It was more about how people act out unresolved trauma. For some, it’s anger, or alcoholism, difficult relationships, and other symptoms. I have been helped by Christian counseling, but not secular psychologists. Resentment, once it takes root, is a tough issue. And, your son may have unresolved trauma and you may be developing resentment which can in itself feel like trauma. I don’t have children and can only imagine your challenges. Take care of yourself. Love In Him, Linda
I am a blessed mama to 5 kiddos…2 adopted and 3 with special needs. It is a beautiful journey filled with light, love, and laughter. But, it is also filled with discouragement, sleepless nights, and the feeling of always being “on”. Twenty months ago, we moved cross country and things just erupted in my family. Every emotion came up in my kiddos and it felt like a bomb went of in our family dynamic. As a mama, I felt the need to make everything OK for everyone. I have exhausted myself in all ways over these past 20 months. I have been praying for God to be my hope, and after reading this this morning, I feel recharged. God has planted us here and He is equipping me everything I need to journey well. Sometimes you just gotta flip the lense! Bless you!
Thank you for this reminder Ms. Sharon and Holy Spirit!!
Lord help us to view our situations through your eyes. Give us your eyes. In Jesus Name Amen.
Thank you for wonderful article on how to “look” at things or circumstances differently.
I’ve been working in somewhat of a dead-end job for the last 20 months. I was hired just after the lockdown ended in Pennsylvania and very parttime.
I had been blessed with working my dream job for 6 years. I knew God had placed me there and I was able to use all my giftings He had given me.
Fast forward 20 months later… doing a similar retail job, however, there’s literally no where to go/grow with this company.
Why am I here?? The only gifting I’m using is under utilized and not always appreciated. While I am thankful being able to work, I also need to learn to be content in whatever I do or whatever the circumstances.
However, after reading this today, I’m looking at it through a new lens, so to say. I now feel like this could be a stepping stone job to a better one for me. I need to bite the bullet and get busy looking for a new job.
Bless you! Thanks again ☺️
Truly, one can only see the will of GOD with our eyes of faith for we walk by faith not by sight.
( 2 Corinthians 5:7)
Thank you for this encouragement. I too have refraction done yearly so I can relate to the changing of the lenses. As well as changing my spiritual lense as my husband of 35 years and I have been recovering from infidelity over the past two years. Partly due to a sexual addiction and childhood wounds of mine, I had multiple affairs over a 5 year period. Praise God, my husband chose to stay. These two years have been the hardest of my life but also such a blessing personally and for our marriage as we gave both worked to heal with God’s grace and strength. There have been many, many days that I have to choose joy because we are in a very unhappy place dealing with trauma and triggers. There have been days that I have been on my knees crying out to God, and he always meets me there. This is not the story I would of chosen for my life, but when I see it through God’s lense, it’s the story he is writing for me and I count it as joy that He is walking through it with me.
Thank you.. Your devotionals are a blessing to many. It also gives opportunity for me to pray for the ones who express their needs in the comments, many of whom I can identify with. Many blessings
Thank you Sharon for helping me to see my present situations through different lenses.After much stress my vision is renewed. God bless your ministry.
Thank you. You helped me to understand the meaning of joy. I had never thought of it as being a point of view, but that is exactly what it is.
I have been feeling sorry for myself lately and this is confirmation of what God put in my heart during a recent fast- that is to stop whining like the Israelites during this wilderness season and to see the blessings in the storm.
Thank you for this devotion. It’s a reminder for me. God Bless
At 64 I’m in training for a new DIGITAL position that my company has positioned me in. I capitalize digital because I don’t understand it as quickly as I would like. My younger co-workers seem to pick up on it so quickly! Some of the Sales Reps are rude because they can tell I don’t get it. It’s really not fair to them. I don’t want to do this. All I want to do is retire, but truly I’m not ready. I’ve been with this company MANY years. I have had a couple people tell me if the company didn’t think you could do it they wouldn’t have put you in this position – but my answer is good help is hard to find. I’m trying hard not to let it steal my joy. Reading this today helps. Thanks Sharon for your words of wisdom!
I have epilepsy and can feel like I’m in a prison since I can’t do anything on my own that I want to do. I want to try new things and explore the world apart from my family. But when I take a look at what I do have rather than what I don’t have then my life brightens because God’s joy is my strength.
Praise God, how true! I live in nursing home, divorced, hadicapped, senior saint etc. World view–poor you, oh so sad. God’s view–blessings. Let me explain. Medicaid allows me $53/month. I recently was able to get a wheelchair that cost $50,000 or so. (I never saw the bottom line, but my previous 12 year old chair cost approximately $48,000 so this is an estimate.) I have never paid a penny!!!! How can this be?? God!!! IV named her Gloria for glory to God. I have several stories of God’s blessings and miracles.
Thank you for this devotion, Sharon.
I am 53. I met my boyfriend (61) online 5 years ago. We live in 2 different continents. We travel to see each other but not since Covid happened. We video chat every day. It seems we always have something keeping us from moving to the other person’s country. I’m the caretaker for my elderly mom. He’s got job and adult children he was helping support until they could be on their own. He lost his job. Then his ex wife had cancer. His adult children asked him to be her medical person to deal with doctors and hospitals. He did until she died from cancer. Finding a job at his age is hard. Now he is diagnosed with severe depression cuz he attempted suicide last month cuz his children demanded he not move to another continent to be with his love. They demanded this last Easter and this Easter. Thank you for this devotion. I need God’s lenses to see my circumstances anew. I choose hope and joy.