We often go to the Scriptures for strength and hope. Lately, the Lord has called my attention to Genesis 15, where Abraham is presenting his frustration to God. His crisis is that his name means “father.” Yet he has no heir for which to leave his resources. Abraham is in his tent praying. Then the Lord directs him to go outside.
“Look now toward the heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them, so shall your descendants be.”
I am struck by several elements of this story:
To gain perspective we need to get outside of the immediate situation and see it from a different perspective. The Lord can help us do that. He may use a friend, a pastor, or a counselor. We need to spiritually, mentally, or physically step away. We call vacations “getting away.” When things got very difficult for my parents, they would “get away” for a few days to gain perspective. Dad remained a pastor in one church for 35 years; he kept perspective.
To gain perspective we need to “look toward the heavens.” Looking down will not help. The Lord always calls us to look up to Jesus “the Author and Finisher of our Faith” (see Hebrews 12:1-3). Abraham was praying inside his tent when the Lord called him out to look at the stars. As He stepped out into the clear desert night, He could see millions of stars from horizon to horizon. There was no limit to the view. The Lord removed the ceiling from his eyes to look into infinity.
What we see makes a vast difference. What an astronaut sees is indescribably different from what a child sees on a playground. And what God sees is a whole other matter. The closer we get to His view, the more likely our victory. Heaven changes our view of earth; we can move from earthly trauma to heavenly peace.
We gain perspective from a long-range view. The Lord promised Abraham that his descendants would be as the stars in number. It would not happen immediately, but it would happen, and it did. Abraham gained a new long-range perspective that brought faith, hope, and endurance. The short term or short-sighted view may be grim, but the long-range view is different when viewed through the lens of faith. Jesus told the disciples to be patient and possess their souls (see Luke 21:19). He spoke these words to them in the context of difficult times – crisis.
We gain perspective by believing what God said. Abraham believed God and God counted him righteous (see Romans 4:3). We all need a promise that we have received from God. Usually, it is one that He showed us in the Holy Scriptures. Such promises need to become personal and substantive in our own hearts, as it was with me when I received Jesus as my Savior, or later when I entered the ministry, and many times after when I faced a challenge. Some of those promises are found in John 3, Philippians 4:19, Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 27, and other wonderful passages.
The key to perspective is entering into the promise by faith. We must “lay hold” and seize the Word with an unyielding grip. Then we become “prisoners of hope” (see Zechariah 9:12). Our point of view becomes stable and secure in His covenant Word. We are no longer “tossed about.”
My best friend in high school was also named Charles. We were co-captains in our final football fame for the county championship. Before we walked onto the field, we shook hands and with hands clasped we said to each other, “The game is ours.” The other team was larger, undefeated, and it was their home field. They ran up and down the field but never scored. In the final moments we held them at their goal line. We won by playing with an unyielding perspective. The entire team held perspective.
We can gain perspective through giving it all to God. As God had promised, Abraham did receive his son, Isaac. But one day God called on Him to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah. The Lord tested Abraham. It is a difficulty story to read, let alone live. But Abraham obeyed. He took his son to the mountain and left his servants at the base.
Together Abraham and his young son started up the mountain. As they went up the mountain, Isaac said, “You have the fire and the wood but where is the lamb? Abraham answered, “The Lord will provide.” Abraham actually believed that if he took his son’s life, the Lord would raise him up (see Hebrews 11:17-19). But as Abraham bound his son to the altar and raised the knife, the Lord prevented him, and showed him a ram caught on the thicket which he sacrificed instead.
Abraham was so sure of the promise that Isaac would produce descendants that he was willing to give him up. Amazing. At that very place he called God, “Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide.” Perspective comes when we say, “No matter what is required of me, the Lord will provide.” Believing brings a perspective in our most trying hours.