Lord, Change My Perspective
Remember the movie, Dead Poet’s Society? The main character, Mr. Keating, unexpectedly climbs on his desk and challenges his students to change their perspective. He says, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. See, the world looks very different from up here.” Shifts in perspective can range from slight to dramatic. The more dramatic ones often mark turning points in our lives. As I examine one of my turning points, not only did it turn the direction of my life, but it served as a catalyst to a great period of spiritual growth. A time when I became better aware of who God is, of my need for him, and what he has done for me.
In 2009, my family did not look like I thought it should. I had a husband who was angry at God and resisted all things spiritual. I had one child on the Autism spectrum. And a 5-year-old girl who, as a result of suffering from chronic diarrhea for 18 months, ceased growing at all.
After the colonoscopy diagnosed her condition, she developed pancreatitis and was hospitalized for 10 days. The only treatment for pancreatitis is to not eat or drink anything until the symptoms resolve. After three to four days of daily blood draws and no resolution, the doctors decided to implant a special IV line that would allow for both drawing blood without a needle and for IV nutrition while we waited for the pancreatitis to clear.
This procedure is normally done on a fully sedated child, but because it was the weekend and the full medical team was not available it was performed with partial sedation. This was a harrowing experience for both my daughter and I. The sedation did not kick in well. I had to hold her down while they snaked this tube up her arm and into her chest. All the while, she was screaming at me and questioning why we were doing this. Through my tears I whispered, “Lord Jesus, come near and rescue me.” It was only the strength of Jesus that kept me there doing what needed to be done. But in my heart I began to question, too.
Questions flooded up like, “Lord, if you are using this to draw my husband back to you, why is it taking so long? Why do we have to suffer through this alone? Why won’t he just figure it out and come back to you so we can be done with this?” In other moments I would shift the focus of my questions and ask, “Lord, I get that in the future this experience will help my daughter to love others well, but does it have to hurt this bad?” Notice, I was asking about other people. I was allowing myself to play the victim, instead of realizing that maybe, just maybe, the Lord was trying to teach me something to grow me.
A Change in Perspective, Not Circumstances
James just happened to be the book we were studying in my women’s Bible study that year. I bet you know what verses came flooding back to me! James 1:2-4:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I had this moment where I realized that these verses were talking about the testing of my faith through trials. Not the faith of others (although we see often where the trials we face are often used by the Lord to encourage, strengthen, and grow other people). We see here it is the faith of the one suffering that is being tested to produce steadfastness. And I was definitely one of the ones suffering in this situation.
So, I began to let go of my anger and to ask, “Lord, what is it you are trying to teach me through my daughter’s illness?” Here is what the Lord showed me:
- I should have learned patience, but the Lord was patient with my impatience.
- I should have learned to be gracious, but He still gave me grace when I failed.
- I should have learned to be disciplined in listening for him, but his Spirit spoke louder than whispers so in my weakness I could hear him more clearly.
- I should have learned compassion, but I felt his compassion so overwhelmingly.
- I didn’t need to learn to be strong, because he held me up.
- I didn’t need to learn to be self-sufficient, because he surrounded me with people who would step into the areas of my need, often without being asked.
- I didn’t need learn to be in control, because he kept it all from spinning out of control.
The Turning Point
So, what did I learn? I learned that this is not my life but his, and all of this was for his glory as he was made known through my family – and that was enough. As the doctors and nurses witnessed visitor after visitor come and pray with us and care for us, as they heard me proclaim the goodness of God to my sweet 5-year-old, we testified to our faith that whatever we face in this life is nothing compared to the wrath we have been saved from because of Jesus.
It was a change in perspective. I got up on the desk and saw that my view was a limited, temporal one. But because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and my belief that it was enough to satisfy God’s wrath, I am given the Holy Spirit who helps me to see beyond the temporal, and sustains me while I get glimpses of the eternal.
My story is still ongoing. My husband did finally turn back to Jesus. My little one receives the treatments she needs. But our trust in Jesus does not guarantee resolution of suffering in this life. It's not a pat, Sunday School answer that says, "It will all be easy and turn out great if you just have faith." This answer says no matter how it turns out, God will be glorified, and you having trusted in him will be saved from much worse than whatever it is you are enduring now. So, run to him, cry out to him, “Lord Jesus come near, rescue me, and change my perspective.”