When I’ve reached a mountain top, I like the perspective it gives. Being up high makes the world look small and the size of any problem diminishes. When times get tough it is useful to remember that the problems we face in life are small compared to the size of our God.
Often we find people say “when I get to do this, or when I have that, then I’ll be happy!” It is a blessing that we can dream, and the Bible tells us that God’s plans are always better than our plans. Amen!
But what happens when our life goals conflict with reality? And this may happen for many reasons, for example; when a relationship breaks down, you don’t get the job you wanted or perhaps don’t get the university placement you were believing for. When we perceive these conflicts between goals and reality as failures, we can turn this in on ourselves and say “I’m not good enough” or “they don’t like me, I must be a bad person.” So this conflict between what you want and reality often leads to disillusionment, anxiety and depression.
When we find ourselves in a place of trouble, the first step out is in turning to God. Talk to Him. I find it helpful to imagine Jesus is present with me and I just tell Him about it as I would a friend. If we empty ourselves of our own will and turn to God, He returns us to a place of encouragement.
When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water he cried out “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Matthew 14:28 ESV. Jesus told him “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. Matthew 14:29 ESV. But when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at his circumstances, he sank!
This teaches us that keeping our minds fixed on Him enables us to do what we think is impossible! Imagine His face and keep your mind’s eye fixed right there – looking in to the eyes of our loving Saviour! Whether in crisis or just a normal day, doing this brings you to a place of peace and comfort.
The next step is to look at our ‘life pie.’ To have a healthy life, our life pie is best if it is cut in to many pieces. Each piece represents an aspect or ‘slice’ of our lives. Slices can be anything, for example; God, Church, Family, Work, Friends, Hobbies etc. Breaking your life down in to parts, looking at how much space each part has, then giving each part a goal is a useful and often eye opening exercise!
The problems we get when we don’t achieve one particular life goal tend to be because we magnified them out of proportion to everything else. If the ‘getting into relationship’ goal or ‘getting the promotion’ goal becomes the sole focus, the pitfalls become twofold. You obtain your goal and it’s like “okay, I’m here and it’s not as great as I thought, why do I feel empty?” or you don’t get it and you become depressed! Either outcome is all about perspective. If you were to distribute each part more evenly, when one part doesn’t work out as you expect, it becomes easier to cope with the disappointment. Similarly you don’t feel empty when you have other ‘parts’ to fill your life.
Okay, so the one goal might not have worked out as you wanted, so consider now what are your options? What could you do about it? II Kings 4:1-7 tells the story of the widow who perceived that she had nothing left of value. Elisha looked at what she already had and said it would be enough! If you are struggling to see the options in your life, then perhaps ask a trusted friend or colleague to help you look at your situation from their perspective. What might they see that you have missed? It is very hard to be objective about our own lives and that is not a criticism, just a fact.
It is helpful to remember that God wants to be included in every part of our lives.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV.
If we want to magnify anything in our minds, let us magnify God!
Thank You loving Father that You love us and are with us in all circumstances! Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You and to magnify Your name above all other names! At all times we pray that Your will be done, in Your way and in Your time. In Jesus name. Amen.