Perspective determines meaning. It defines reality.
Friedrich Nietzsche said “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” He was right.
It was the English nonconformist preacher Philip Henry (1631—1696) who said “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.” Or as Jim Elliot would say some 300 years later, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Why could Henry and Elliot say that? Perspective.
In James 1:5, James discusses a crucial attribute for spiritual maturity and wholeness: wisdom. Peter Davids says that wisdom “is the possession of the believer given by the Spirit that enables him to see history from the divine perspective.” Testing forces us to see life from God’s perspective.
To experiencing difficult times and still have the perspective to look outside those experiences and get a secondary understanding is difficult. I would almost say it is impossible. But that is what is asked of us.
Can you see life’s experiences from God’s perspective? If not, James said, ask for it! Instead of wallowing in the experiences, ask God for wisdom to see how this will bring maturity and wholeness in your life. If you ask, God will give without hesitation and without mocking you. In fact, He assumes you will need it.
Will God always tell you why? Well, he didn’t tell Job. But I think Job is more the exception than the rule. When God tests you he often times is trying to expose an emotion or an attitude or a characteristic that you have been blind to or just not willing to deal with. So testing is a way to let you know where you are broken and allow you to deal with that brokenness. This moves you closer to wholeness and maturity. I think in most cases, God will tell you the reason. It’s the only way to move past the brokenness that wrecks our lives and the lives of others.
When things are going well, we sometimes don’t think about tomorrow because we are enjoying today. When periods of testing come, we worry about tomorrow and beg for some kind of meaning. What if we could enjoy today in times of testing without worrying about tomorrow? What if we could be so content today, when things are going well, that even though we are not worrying, we understand the grand perspective of God?
Maybe part of wholeness is being in a place where we understand God’s perspective in every experience and are patient to allow him to work everything out for our good and His glory.
Maybe that’s part of what faith is.
Word to the (wanna be) wise. Ask for wisdom.