By Walter Albritton
People see things differently. Take, for example, the Apostle Paul. That great missionary of the first century spent a lot of time in jail. Some people saw him as a rabble-rouser. Others viewed him as a passionate preacher espousing faith in Jesus the Christ. Authorities in Rome jailed him as an enemy of the state. His Christian friends would have said Paul was a prisoner of Caesar.
That was not Paul’s perspective. Writing to his friends, Paul said, “I am a prisoner of Christ Jesus because of my preaching to you Gentiles.” In Paul’s mind he was not a prisoner of Caesar; he was a prisoner of Jesus and using his imprisonment to advance the gospel.
Your view of what is happening to you, or others, makes a huge difference. Take suffering, for example. A friend lost her husband after a year-long battle with cancer. She was not unhappy with God for letting her husband die. Instead, she praised God for using her husband’s suffering to strengthen her faith and the faith of her children.
It matters how you view bad things happening to good people. Viewpoints differ widely. One person may believe God does not have the power to prevent the suffering of the innocent. Another person believes God allows suffering but does not cause it. Someone else views God as actually hurting with his children when bad things happen. Your perspective matters because it determines how you feel about God.
If I lose my job, I can feel forsaken by God or I can believe that God loves me and has another plan for me. I can feel mistreated by my employer and give up, or I can expect God to open another door for me. Perspectives matter because they determine our state of mind.
The Apostle Paul is well-known for having written in Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It makes a profound difference to believe that “in all things” God is working for our good — even when we don’t understand what is happening in hard times. Easy to believe that? No, it takes faith in the character of God to believe it. For me, finally believing that God is like Jesus freed me to believe that God is always working for my good.
Each of us is free to view life differently, but every viewpoint has consequences. The perspective you choose will determine whether your mind is filled with peace and hope or fear and despair. We shall be wise to ask the loving God who created us to help us choose daily, healthy viewpoints because perspectives matter.