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Wow. What a journey. I have a friend who was just telling me about his 30+ year search to find his birth parents. His childhood had been rough; he wasn’t adopted until he was in his middle school years, and had suffered abuse at the hands of his foster parents prior to being adopted. In his mind his childhood experience had been “less than.” Less than perfect, less than fair, less than ideal. And because of it, he felt “less than.”
Fast forward a few decades, and he finally discovers not only his birth parents’ identities, but also that he has several siblings who were raised with the parents. With few exceptions, they had all experienced a much tougher childhood than he had. His experiences paled in comparison. Most of them viewed my friend as being profoundly lucky for having been raised away from family influence. Talk about a game changer! He came to realize his existence, while hard, was actually an improvement over what would’ve happened had he been kept, and for perhaps the first time feels thankful for his upbringing. Nothing changed – but everything changed. It was all a matter of perspective.
How we approach our lives, our challenges, our faith, our families, our friends and our world largely depends on our perspective. We may not all experience something as dramatic as my friend, able to see in this lifetime the hidden blessing behind times of challenge and suffering. But each of us can choose to pursue growth and healing in the midst of our struggles, to allow our perspective to be based on faith in God’s ability to use everything for our good even when we don’t understand.
Ultimately, we will each of us have dramatic stories to be told when we finally complete our journey home. Stories of what we overcame, how we persevered, and the powerful victories God helped us snatch from the jaws of certain defeat. As Christians, we will all have that moment where our temporal perspective will change to an eternal one, and we will understand in incredible detail the divine care we have received. Paul explains this to us when he shares, “At present, all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it just as fully as God now knows me!” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Like my friend, we will count ourselves lucky, for we will have escaped the world for something far better. Keeping that perspective on Earth helps us persevere.
For Further Thought: To be clear, God hates the wrong that is done to us. There are scriptures too numerous to mention that talk of God’s pain for us (and because of us) over wrong choices made. God doesn’t want ugly, hard things to come our way. It’s why He hates sin so much. He sees the pain it causes us. But since He is God, He is able to take the ugly moments in our lives and heal us from them emotionally. He will then actually use them as a blessing for others if we let him. Isaiah shares about this when he says, “God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes, to anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness. People will call them magnificent, like great towering trees standing for what is right. They stand to the glory of the Eternal who planted them” (Isaiah 61:3). This week, ask God to put someone in your path that you can share with and use your experiences to build into and encourage that individual. I’d love to hear how it goes!