If you were unable to catch Part 1 of this 3 part series, I hope you will take a look. It focuses on how to “stay sweet” . . . and stay away from the sour end of life’s scale. Daily, there’s temptation to suck on a lemon. But really, all you get from that practice is a “pucker face.” Part 1 talks about how being grateful and staying sweet requires DISCIPLINE. [For your convenience – Part 1 and Part 3.]
PART 2: Being grateful and staying sweet requires PERSPECTIVE.
Life is pretty challenging, and lots of hard things happen. So, you need to be deliberate in responding. Intentional Living is needed.
Godly perspective follows hope. Hebrews 12:2 says to fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. Why do we focus so intently on Him? How could Jesus be anointed with the oil of joy when He suffered so much? Jesus had godly perspective. Jesus had hope.
Hope is not a feeling. It isn’t merely a desire. It is a chosen outlook you latch onto with all your might by fastening yourself to God. (Also check out: Hope Happens When You Tether Yourself to God.)
On a practical level, how does hope connect to perspective? There is a 5-step cycle you go through. When you are walking through difficult times, the process looks something like this:
- Manage suffering and difficult times with a deep trust in God.
- Thank Him for what you will learn during a hard time.
- He is about to show you the kinds of things Jesus practiced in His life.
- Roll up your sleeves and resolve to walk with God as you solve the problems of your suffering.
- Simply refuse to give up believing God is working in your difficulty.
- Pour out your heart to Him. Grieve with Him. Tell Him all that is going on in your heart and how much you need His help, His strength, and His wisdom.
- Practiced resolve morphs into perseverance, a critical life skill worth more than gold!
- As you build this pattern into the years of your life, you will find you are becoming stronger, more balanced, more peaceful, confident, and credible.
- That’s because you are developing Christ-like character. This is a big deal!
- The more you become like Christ, the more powerful your life becomes.
- You will notice another encouraging thing happening as time goes by. You will actually have real hope in your heart as you trust the Lord.
- Finally, you – and everyone around you – will be enjoying your sweet Christ-like character rather than a sour pucker face.
As you complete this cycle of maturity over and over in your life, not only does your hope in the Lord increase. So does your perspective. This is the place all seasoned believers end up. That doesn’t mean their lives have become a picnic. Hardly. It means they have learned how to live through the worst and still come out with hope, faith intact, and life skills highly developed as a result of the intense training they underwent in a war zone. (Nutshelled in Romans 5:2–5.)
This whole cycle of life suffering is one of the mysteries of God. He performs great exchanges. Isaiah 61:3 records those exchanges as:
- giving a crown of beauty and taking your ashes
- giving the oil of joy and taking your mourning
- giving a garment of praise and taking your spirit of despair.
But you have to let go of losses to embrace the gifts He is giving you. By choosing PERSPECTIVE, you have opportunity to be highly trained in life skills of hope. You have a chance to be a truly sweet person to your core: no act, no fake, no pretend. But you have to want Jesus more than anything else in life.
In Philippians 3:10, Paul pours out the desires of his own heart. “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.”
Jesus suffered “for the joy set before Him.”
Jesus has perspective.
Jesus has hope.
Jesus is sweet.
Are you willing to choose a PERSPECTIVE of gratitude and embrace His HOPE?
* Much of this post was an excerpt from my book Reach Back: Intentionally Reaching Back to God. To purchase this book, click REACH BACK.
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