I am an emotional person. Even for a woman, I am more emotional than most. I feel everything so very deeply and personally about so many things and it has always been an insecurity of mine. If I am upset, I am very upset and everything in me feels that emotion. When I am happy, I overflowing with joy; contagiously so. And even if it’s not me going through something, I tend to feel for other people as well. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are happy, I am too. But something I have realized is that God has a purpose for the way I am. I trust that He will use this in me one day to further His kingdom and give Him glory. But I also have to make an effort to not focus on the emotions I am feeling due to certain situations going on in my life, but rather focus on the One who brings true peace and real joy. So that is what todays blog is going to be about; fixing out eyes on Christ instead of our circumstances or our feelings.
I know first hand how difficult it can be to divert your attention from pain and heartache or even joy and gladness to the Lord completely. There are times that instead of turning to Christ and focusing on His sovereignty and protection, we dwell on the trials and then allow the very real, very prominent emotions to shift our focus off of the Lord. We become distracted as we sit and think. We begin worrying, dwelling, contemplating, and allowing ungodly emotions to fester and grow within us. I personally know that this is what make depression and anxiety so difficult to battle for most people. We are lingering in the feelings and situations instead of bringing our pain to the Lord.
Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood, emotions are very real and there are circumstances that appear to be absolutely impossible to endure. I do not want to belittle that by any means, because I know that pain, that struggle. The realness of the things you feel in those moments can be so overwhelming at times. But we have a God who is bigger than anything we feel or go through, and that is found over and over again in scripture. I am not writing this because I have perfected how to focus on God or that I don’t struggle with it. Quite the opposite! I want to be honest and real with you all, and the way to do that is to grow together, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, by sharing our struggles and learning from them through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
While I was praying about what the Lord wanted me to say in this blog today, I kept thinking about the book of Job in the Old Testament. Job was such a God-fearing and wonderful man and I tend to think about him a lot, especially through trials. To give a brief summary of the whole book, which I greatly encourage you to read, Job was a blessed, wealthy, and fruitful man who “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) Satan, being a deceiver and a destroyer, was out to get Job because he was favored by God. Satan was determined to prove that the only reason Job was faithful to the Lord was because God has blessed him with so much.
Job lost EVERYTHING. His wife, his children, his land, his livestock, his home, his health… But through all of this, He never once spoke or thought badly of the Lord, but rather still gave God glory and praise. Now most people read this story and think, “Well how could such a loving God put someone who was faithful to Him through such agony?” Trust me, I asked that too. The rest of the story shows the divine hand of God and allows us to better understand the heart of God. “The Lord blessed the latter parts of Job’s life more than the former parts.” (Job 42:12) God not only gave Job what he had lost, but multiplied it more than he had before. This story is a representation of why we go through so much trials. We do what we can to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and then difficulties come and we look at God with confusion. “I am serving you and fixing my path towards you, and you do this?? Why would you put me through such misery??”
Truth is, He doesn’t want to see us in pain, but He DOES want to see us grow. He desires to see that our faith becomes stronger, more deeply founded in Him, and that our lives will bring Him glory. So, I know that was a long introduction to focusing on God instead of trials and feelings, but there is so much wisdom in the story of Job and God has used that in my life to help me understand things so much more clearly. Something I have noticed in my life and in the lives of those around me, when we take our focus of of Him, that is when we begin to make more and more mistakes. We begin to fight against the desires and thoughts of our flesh. We war against the influence of the enemy. But what we should be doing is bringing all these things we are struggling with and lay them at the foot of Jesus. “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22. He says that He will fight these battles for us! (also see Exodus 14:14 & John 10:10)
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4. When we are focusing our thoughts on the Lord, we will find peace. Honestly, we can only truly focus on one thing at a time. We are either focusing on the Lord, the promises He has made, or we are focusing on the things this world throws at us. And something that I learned through experience and also through reading the Word, our hearts are made evident by seeing where our focus is. When we are not focusing on God, that shows that our hearts are not completely trusting in Him and we are seeking other things to replace that. This will lead to an empty, painful life which I know He doesn’t want for us. But when we keep our focus on Him, even through the difficulties, it shows that our trust is wholly placed in the Lord! In doing this, the Lord will bless that decision, giving us peace.
It all boils down to a choice, a conscious decision to turn our attention to Christ rather than emotions, circumstances, and things the world offers us. It does not come naturally to us to focus on Christ; we have a sinful nature that innately wants to do things on our own, focusing on the things the world claims will “fulfill” us and give us “real happiness”. But through the Holy spirit, we receive the desire and craving to run to God with everything that happens in our lives. “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news, their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear.” Psalms 112:6-8. We will find rest in Christ.
Somethings I have found that help me refocus my attention on Christ is definitely prayer. Spending time talking with Him is the best way to change our thoughts to be more like His. Surrounding yourself in worship music is another way to get your thoughts and emotions to be directed to the Lord. Reading the Word and even memorizing a bible verse is another way to focus on Him. Allowing our thoughts to revolve around remembering that verse or reading through that passage, you’ll begin to see your mood lift and lighten. When we trust the Lord, you will begin to see the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf and you will notice the weight being lifted. It is such a powerful and amazing experience and ! know and believe wholeheartedly that God is able! We have victory in Christ, and though the emotions and trials are very painful and intense, very real, we serve a God who is bigger than all these things!!
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind of things above, not on earthly things for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-3. No matter how hard is seems, how impossible it appears, how miserable it feels, we are called to fix our hearts and our eyes on God, who is bigger than all the trials and struggles of this life. He is always by our side, and believe me, God is faithful.
Here are a few more verses that I believe are so relevant to todays topic….
- Pslams 19:14 ~ “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
- Jeremiah 29:11-13 ~ “‘For i know the plans that i have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and i will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”
- Matthew 15:8 ~ “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
- Philippians 4:7 & 13 ~ “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
- Hebrews 12:1-2 ~ “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”
- 1 Peter 5:8 ~ “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
I pray that we all are able to be intentional about fixing our eyes on Him. Something one of my role models encouraged me to do is every day, think about at least 3 things that I am grateful for, and then spend time in prayer afterwards. And she challenged myself and many others to do this very thing. I am going to do this, and I also challenge you to do the same. Please feel free to share them with me as well! I will go ahead and share what mine are for today.
1.) My job! I am going back to work tomorrow after being on vacation for a little over a week and I have been SO blessed with being able to miss work while I am away! I am looking forward to being back at work and being able to serve and shine God’s light. 2.) Godly Family/Friends! It is so important to have godly fellowship and I have been blessed with an abundance of incredible, God-fearing and God-loving people in my life, both men and women. I can’t stop praising God for each of them! 3.) One that I think we take for granted more than we should, is the freedom to pray and read the Word! There are so many of our brothers and sisters across the globe who will be beaten, tortured, imprisoned, or even killed for publicly proclaiming the name of Jesus. And being able to write and post blogs throughout the week without fear of being killed or thrown into jail is such an incredible blessings!
I apologize for such a lengthy blog tonight, but I do pray that the Holy Spirit was able to take my rambling and turn it into the wisdom given by God. Know that you are not fighting this fight alone; you have so many people who are praying for you and for strength for you everyday, and you have a mighty God who loves you and fights for you. Remember that the next time you are hurt by something someone did to you, or are sad because of a situation you are in, or even overjoyed by an event in your life, always tie it back to the Lord. He is there for you, and He will not leave us alone to go through these on own. I pray that you seek the Lord with all your heart and that the Holy Spirit blesses you with wisdom and discernment when your eyes start to wander away from the Lord. I pray that you crave a deeper relationship with Christ and that through the trials, you still give God praise and glory, just as Job did while enduring massive loss and difficulty. God bless you all!