November 24, 2010
Perspective Precedes Thankfulness
"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm."
Deuteronomy 5:15 (NIV)
My little sister and I were an unstoppable team in the board game Scattergories. Within seconds we guessed each other's drawings, annoying our opponents in the process. Sometimes it was an unspoken memory shared by the two of us. Most often it was because we understood the concept of perspective.
For example, if we were attempting to draw a basketball, we immediately drew something else to create perspective. Otherwise, our teammates would waste time guessing that it was the sun, the earth or a face. A stick person holding the circle narrowed the guesses, because seeing objects in relation to each other helped reveal the truth.
Perspective made all the difference in the game, and it makes all the difference in how we handle life. Without perspective, small problems seem insurmountable, and we ignore warning signs. But with perspective, hard situations don't overwhelm, and we can find our way to thankfulness instead of despair.
To help me take a balanced approach to life's difficult times, I've developed a few perspective points. These points are hard-earned lessons in my life. By making them perspective points, I choose to find value in what would otherwise be dismal experiences. Now, when I'm faced with bad news, disappointment or failure, I grasp one of these perspective points, and like a compass pointing north, I can accurately assess the situation, and choose to be thankful.
One of the most difficult perspective points in my life is the death of my niece Christa in a car accident. In fact, at times I feel my life is divided in two parts: before and after Christa's death. With five children of my own, this devastating loss to our family has given me perspective on the challenges we face.
When one of my children makes a heart-breaking choice, I grieve and administer consequences. Then very quickly, like that magnetic force in a compass, perspective points me to thankfulness. Thank You Lord my son (or daughter) is alive.
Another perspective point is the economic downfall of the past few years. Finances have eased a bit, but we'll be battling our way out of that slump for years to come. Instead of being resentful, I find myself thankful for having money to spend at all. Thank You Lord for getting us through that rough time and for what I have to spend today.
In Deuteronomy 5:15 Moses gave the Israelites God's Ten Commandments. As Moses related "Observe the Sabbath day," he challenged the people with this sentence: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." God was establishing a day of rest, but also a day to keep perspective and be thankful. He wanted people to remember the hard times so they could appreciate the good times even more.
Perspective points are an arrow to thankfulness. They remind me God was faithful then and He will be faithful now. They remind me God was greater than my circumstances then, and still is today. Most importantly, they help me cultivate a thankful heart for what I have. The truth is as long as we have breath, there is reason to be thankful and hopeful.
As we begin this Thanksgiving week, let's identify perspective points in our lives. It's how we can find value in what seems a waste. They prove God can use anything for good, and help turn our hearts to gratitude instead of grumbling.
Dear Lord, I thank You for the difficult times in my life. Although they weren't easy, I can see how You worked through them. Help me to keep perspective on my problems today by remembering Your faithfulness in my past. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Is there something you are thankful for that God has done in your life through Proverbs 31 Ministries? Prayerfully consider how you can support our ongoing ministry. Click here for more information. We're thankful for you!
Visit Glynnis' blog where she tells another story of how she kept perspective while trying to sell a house in a down market.
You Are My Hiding Place Lord by Emilie Barnes
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Identify a time in your life that was difficult. View your current circumstances in light of that difficult time. Thank God for what He is doing in your life today.
How can gratitude keep me from feeling like a victim?
Many times I want to forget the past. Is there a healthy way to remember my past difficulties?
Joel 2:13, "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (NIV)
Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)
© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 24 November 2010.