Finding Focus

Putting a pen to paper and writing down the things I am grateful for, thankfulness has been at the top of my “essential for survival” list.

These are difficult days for so many, and while I am blessed that my life has not been altered financially (yet!) and I have no serious health issues, I am–and I dare say most, will be forever changed on a spiritual level.

Focusing on the good–the positive things I can be thankful for–health, finances, family, faith, etc.–is a catalyst for helping fear and frustration take a back seat in my thinking. More importantly, the physical and emotional struggles I have are put in perspective when I look beyond the moment to a much bigger picture: I have seen God at work in ways that might not have happened if we had been spared of CoVid.

Could it be that God is teaching me to  be thankful even for the difficult times that teach us valuable lessons?

I think so.  While it is often easy to write down the things we are grateful for, it is often more difficult to have thankful hearts for the struggles we go through and the hardships we endure.  Could these have a greater purpose than we might know in this lifetime?  In this battle of the mind, I am constantly confronted with truth that reminds me that, 1) He is in control, and 2.) My number one priority should be to seek Him. 

In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul writes,

“…I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8

He goes on to say,

“My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…”  Philippians 3:10

Those things that are negative and that frustrate me have actually led me to crave God’s Word even more.  He is constantly reminding me that I am here for a reason–in this place, in this time.  When He saved me, He had a purpose in doing so.  His desire for me is so much more than I can even comprehend on this side of heaven, and being faithful in the day-to-day matters.  It matters.

Even when I am limited by the scope of a world-wide pandemic.

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead.  I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

Remember, Paul was writing this letter to the church in Philippi from prison, and he pens these words:

“And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:9-11

Wow.  What a powerful prayer!  I am praying these words daily:

Go back and read the whole book of Philippians.  It’s only four chapters and you will see how these ancient words apply to us today.  A man who God allowed to suffer in prison used his time to write letters of encouragement and truth that we are still learning from today.

Don’t you see?  Our vision is limited by an earthly perspective.  We can’t always understand what God is doing, but we can know that He is still in control.  Not obligated to answer our ‘why, Lord?”, He does answer our “what now?  What am I to do with this?”.

What He is doing and what He wants us to learn in the process will be different for all of us, but the key to finding our answers lie in Words such as these:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things.  Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

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