When we lived in Asia, I was fortunate to make a few trips to Cambodia. One day, while riding through a village in a tuk tuk (an open air, motorcycle-powered taxi), I noticed a group of young local boys reveling up to their belly buttons in a large mud bath in the middle of a tall grassy field. Laughing and unaware of our world’s woes, the scene captured my attention. They paused as I passed and their sweet innocent eyes met the lens of my camera and melted my heart.
One thing that strikes me in all of our travels is that kids are kids. They have no trouble finding fun in a smart phone or a stick and a rock. On this day, these three boys had chosen a mud puddle. They couldn’t possibly have known how their simple act of pleasure brought much needed perspective to my soul.
Throughout my years of personal struggle, God has always been faithful to provide perspective. I don’t take pleasure in knowing that someone has a harder go of it than me but it offers comfort to know that someone is living through their trials and surviving. They are still putting one foot in front of the other and stumbling forward. And when they smile in the midst, I am inspired.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
Friends, we were never promised a trouble-free life. In fact, according to John 16:33, we are promised the opposite. Unless you had a ridiculously optimistic childhood, we are raised knowing that adversity is a real thing. Someone along the way taught you how to work through adversities. Or maybe someone taught you how not to work through adversity. Often, however, an adversity comes knocking that we were not given instructions for. We didn’t see it coming. We didn’t choose it. And it’s big. Bigger than big. Its wave overtakes and threatens to pull us under.
I’ve been blessed to see some mind-blowing, awe-inspiring stained glass during my travels. One thing I’ve noticed is that if I stand up too close to the glass, I can’t make out the story that the artist has told. I can’t see the story in a stained-glass masterpiece if I’m standing too close.
This concept rings true in our own lives. We can get so lost in the muck of our circumstances and miss out on seeing the story that God is writing. When we take a step back from our situation and see it through a wide-angle lens, it is then that we can fully appreciate the masterpiece.
My perspective has been found in the couple who has walked through hell and found their way out. It has been in knowing that right now, women and young girls around the globe are being forced into doing things that have stolen their minds, bodies and souls.
The sweet face of one of the girls we sponsor in Kenya can shift my downcast view upwards in a second. Perspective has come from having to tighten the straps on my daughter’s upper body prison of plastic and metal before bed in hopes her spine will stop curving more whilst I go curl up in my comfortable bed unrestricted. Or perspective could be offered in the jovial laughter of a few boys in a mud puddle in Cambodia.
Not that my problems aren’t very real, and not that they still don’t need to be dealt with, but my problems aren’t as overwhelming and hopeless when I see them through the lens of perspective.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I can assure you that I don’t always rock the whole be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer bit. I do, however, pray for healthy perspective and put my hope in the One who has promised us that He has overcome the world.