It's All How You Look at It

What are you facing—a devastating circumstance or an opportunity to rejoice? Often, the answer depends on perspective.

If you’ve ever been lost without a map or GPS, you understand the value of a higher perspective. Climbing above the terrain to gain a bird’s eye view lets you see which road to take. In the same way, life is often confusing when seen only from a human perspective, but Scripture provides a higher, divine viewpoint that adds clarity and direction.

To grasp how limited our vantage point is, try thinking about it this way. A children’s book called Look Book contains Tana Hoban’s photographs, each covered by a page with a circular cutout. In one, what shows through the round opening is unattractive, brown, and bumpy, but by turning the page, we discover it’s the center of a beautiful sunflower. From our narrow perspective, that’s exactly how life’s circumstances can appear—ugly, painful, or frustrating. From God’s point of view, however, they’re part of the beautiful picture of His eternal plan.

Perspective is important because it determines whether we live in discouragement or hope, turmoil or peace, dissatisfaction or joy. A divine viewpoint doesn’t come naturally; it requires faith in the truth of God’s Word. When we know and believe what the Lord says about His plans, ways, and desires, our spiritual eyes can be opened to perceive His eternal panorama.

READ Isaiah 55:6-11

Pointing out the vast difference between the Lord and mankind, Isaiah tells us to forsake our own thoughts and ways because no matter how wise we may seem, our reasoning and perception have been tainted by sin. In contrast, his writings repeatedly call God the “Holy One.” And in addition to the matter of sin, he wants us to consider the issue of superiority: Our Creator’s thoughts and ways are immeasurably beyond our ability to comprehend.

READ Isaiah 40:6-31

Other aspects of God’s supremacy over man are highlighted in these verses. Since the nature of human existence is transient, man has a limited time frame from which to evaluate and understand life. But our everlasting God, who was present at creation, has complete knowledge of all history and knows exactly what will happen in the future (46:8-10).

Because God is omniscient, His understanding far surpasses ours. He’s never needed a counselor or teacher, whereas everything we know, we’ve had to learn. Furthermore, nothing is beyond His control—not natural disasters, national events, world rulers, the universe, or ordinary human lives. He tirelessly watches over His creation, working everything according to His divine purposes and accomplishing every word of His mouth.

Taking all this into account, whose perspective is more trustworthy—ours or God’s? Who sees the entire picture from eternity past to eternity future? Who has the insight and wisdom to decide the best course of action? The answers should be obvious, but trusting in God’s perspective is at times difficult because it seems so foreign. Yet, if we wait on the Lord for guidance, He promises us a better view as we “mount up with wings like eagles” (40:31).

REFLECT

The Sermon on the Mount challenges us to look at life from the perspective of God’s kingdom.

In Luke 6:20-26, how do the Lord’s definitions of blessings and woes differ from the world’s point of view?
Consider the advice Jesus gave about loving others, defending our rights, and holding onto possessions (vv. 27-38). Which of His instructions seem like a reversal of what we would normally consider logical?
The ways of God frequently conflict with our thinking.
From your own experience, how would you define financial security, good leadership, and worthwhile ambition?
Paul at one time had a worldly perspective, but he saw things differently after encountering the Lord (Phil. 3:4-8).
How does the apostle’s perspective in 1 Corinthians 1:20-  1 Corinthians 2:5 differ from our culture’s view of strength, independence, and performance?
What was his attitude toward weakness, difficulty, and suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-10)?

RESPOND

Think back over the situations you faced this week. Which of your responses were determined by your perception? How would you have responded differently if you’d considered God’s viewpoint?
Even when we realize God's omniscience and sovereignty far surpass human understanding, it can still be hard to trust His ways. What role does faith play in gaining a divine perspective?
This world’s values are often in opposition to God’s. Which statement in each pair below aligns with your viewpoint?
Keep what you get vs. Give generously of whatever you receive (Luke 12:33)
Look out for yourself vs. Consider others more important than yourself (Phil. 2:4)
Take charge of your life vs. Surrender your life to Christ (Luke 9:23-25)
Promote yourself vs. Humble yourself; let God exalt you in His time (1 Peter 5:6)
Complain in hard times vs. Rejoice in trials and suffering (James 1:2-4)
Live for today and walk by sight vs. Live for eternity and walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7,  Phil. 3:8-14)


REVISIT

To know God’s thoughts and ways, you must become familiar with His Word. Record what you learn about His viewpoint to help solidify it in your mind.
Memorize Isaiah 55:8-9. Then when you’re tempted to react naturally, ask God to help you remember His perspective. Also pray for the power to trust and obey, even if His way seems illogical.

Related Topics:  Spiritual Life

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6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

6 A voice says, Call out." Then he answered, What shall I call out?" All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.

8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, Here is your God!"

10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him.

11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales?

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?

14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.

16 Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.

17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.

18 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?

19 As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.

20 He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter.

21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

23 He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.

24 Scarcely have they been planted, Scarcely have they been sown, Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, But He merely blows on them, and they wither, And the storm carries them away like stubble.

25 To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his equal?" says the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.

29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

23 Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

25 Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

27 But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.

30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.

31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:

5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;

6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;

23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;

27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,

28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,

29 so that no man may boast before God.

30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

31 so that, just as it is written, LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,

4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!

8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.

9 And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

33 Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

23 And He was saying to them all, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

7 for we walk by faith, not by sight--

8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

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